Rising New York Road Runners Welcomes 19 New Youth Ambassadors
The Rising New York Road Runners Youth Ambassador program is a six-week speech fundamentals and public-speaking training workshop that helps Rising New York Road Runners Youth Ambassadors improve their presentation and communication skills. This summer 19 Youth Ambassadors—10 girls and nine boys, in grades 4–10 throughout the five boroughs of NYC—completed the program. Many of them demonstrated their new skills by making presentations to an audience of family, friends, and NYRR staff at a ceremony held at the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the NB Run Hub on August 14.
What’s special about being a Rising New York Road Runners Youth Ambassador? Plenty of things, according to the new Youth Ambassadors. “The program helped me go past my comfort zone,” said Erick Reinoso, 11, of Manhattan. “By that I mean not to get shy in front of other people.” The workshop taught specific techniques for speaking in public and meeting new people, such as smiling, making eye contact, shaking hands, and avoiding “filler” words such as “um,” “like,” and “you know.” Learning and practicing these strategies—and realizing that everyone feels shy and nervous in front of a group, and that’s okay—helped the Youth Ambassadors build confidence and self-esteem.
In their presentations, the Youth Ambassadors shared their running journeys. “At first I didn’t love running,” said Soraiya Wescott, 9, of Queens. “I thought that I had to be a super-fast runner. It was also really hard for me to run in front of other people because I was shy. However by running I learned to have more confidence in myself, especially with my family on the sidelines cheering me on.”
Several of the Youth Ambassadors spoke about their running inspirations. Elizabeth Kelly, 9, of Brooklyn, said that her mother, who has asthma, has run races including 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, and the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon, and coaches running at Elizabeth’s school. “My mom inspired me because she did so many races,” said Elizabeth.
Wilfrin Fernandez-Cruz, 11, of Manhattan, spoke about being diagnosed on the autism spectrum at age 3 and struggling to find a sport that worked for him. “I have always had tons of energy but I couldn’t find the right fit on a team sport like soccer,” he said. He started running cross country races in Van Cortlandt Park at age 8. “The first time I raced I loved it. My mom signed me up for all the other free races over the next year, and I got faster and faster," he said. Wilfrin now runs on his school’s track team and hopes to run a 10K next year with his mom.
NYRR President and CEO Michael Capiraso helped present diplomas to the new Youth Ambassadors and thanked them for running with New York Road Runners and inspiring the audience with their stories.
The new Youth Ambassadors will have opportunities throughout the school year to showcase their skills by attending press events with the potential to be interviewed by news outlets, participating in special events including those surrounding the TCS New York City Marathon, and meeting pro athletes and key members of the running industry.