When youth participate in any Running Into Culture (RIC) programs, RIC provides them with running shoes. But why is that? Sometimes not having the appropriate athletic gear can hinder participation; this is especially true for our Indigenous youth.
"When I first started RIC I wanted to provide good shoes so that all the youth felt comfortable and confident in the program." says RIC Program Director, Shayla Manitowabi-Huebner. The shoes provided to the youth and their families are given with the intention that they will be utilized once the programming has concluded.
"When I first got into running I was pretty young. I ran cross-country races in my sketchers and basketball shoes." During her freshman year of college, one of her teammates commented on her clothing saying 'I could never run in that.'
"Growing up, I didn't know there was a specific type of shoe that could help my performance. I told my grandma about (what the teammate said) and the next day she took me to Walmart to get me some new gear." This was a pivotal moment for Shayla, and impacts her program directing. Because of her experience, and the love from her grandmother, she feels strongly that providing shoes will spark confidence in the youth. This is so that they can continue their path knowing they are valued and supported the same way she was.
"At Indigenous Health and Wellness Connections (IHAWC), the host organization for RIC, we strive to make lasting and quality impacts with those we serve." Says IHAWC Executive Director, Shelby Chapoose. "Providing running shoes is just one of the many ways we have been able to elevate and support our youth on their journey throughout our programing."
Shayla leaves us with this, "At the end of the day, clothing is clothing; and shoes are just shoes, However, having some fresh gear and swag created for running is a great way to get excited about movement. Our youth deserve nice things. They deserve to have a safe space where they can come together and learn about how movement ties into their culture."
To support RIC and other programs hosted by IHAWC, donations can be made through our donation link at the bottom of this page.