What About Us?

Photo: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Kurhan

Photo: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Kurhan

From a service perspective, the Borough of Fair Haven’s Recreation Department in New Jersey faced a small conundrum in regard to adult programming. The quaint, riverfront town had many opportunities for youngsters to enjoy; similarly, seniors had a wide range of activities to choose from, including fitness classes, trips, and shopping, with various interest groups, such as gardening, crafts, and card games. By comparison, few opportunities were geared toward adults ages 25 to 65. Someone noted that the average adult residents are paying the tax bill, certainly not the children and, in many cases, not the senior citizens. One gentleman reminded me that his municipal tax contribution was quite considerable, and he had no children or any senior citizens in his household. After some thought, I felt his point was both well-made and fair. Why should all of the programming emphasis be on the very young and (frankly) the old? Were we neglecting an enormous and obvious sector of the population?   

We needed to take action! 

The first step was to form a focus group, which included a few informal meetings with committee members as well as several other adults who were asked to participate. I “bribed” the group with the best Portuguese food I could find in exchange for their ideas and insights. The group agreed there needed to be more activities for the “moms and dads” of the community. By the time we finished our Caldeirada (Portuguese seafood), we had some new programming options, and were excited to start. Some of the most successful programs are listed below.

From Couch To 5k

One of the first programs added was a Couch to 5k run (3.1 miles). In the past few years, recreational running has experienced a terrific increase in participation not seen since the Steve Prefontaine/Frank Shorter phenomenon of the early 1970s. The goal is for adults to train for and complete a 5k race (training begins in early April and ends with the run in June). The group meets on Mondays and Wednesdays, and participants are given a “homework assignment” to be completed over the weekend. The beauty of the class is that it encompasses all ability levels, including folks who have not exercised in many years. Each class includes a handout, a warm-up, a group run, and a cool-down. The atmosphere is informal with everyone cracking jokes and maintaining an upbeat attitude. The first day features only a few seconds of running mixed with plenty of walking. The class progresses to include more running and less walking over time. After the race, many of the participants continue running, with some participating in triathlons and even marathons. The class is exceptionally rewarding, as self-proclaimed “non-runners” are transformed into runners who will enjoy the sport for years to come.

Run Around The Country

“Run Around the Country” has followed on the success of the 5k program. Essentially, any adult who is walking or running regularly is encouraged to email their distances to the rec department. Each week, a spreadsheet is updated that tracks how far participants have run from town. For instance, the Delaware state border is 94 miles away. So “Welcome to Delaware” certificates are given to

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