For center director Yesenia Sanchez, running is an exercise in more than just the physical sense — she uses it to boost family and staff engagement as well as Herndon Avenue KinderCare’s role in the community. In the past ten months, Yesenia has run at least six half marathons.
“When you run marathons, you think that everything is possible, and everything is so great and you get inspired to do so many things,” said Yesenia. “At the center level, it changes everything we do — we are more focused on community and families now.”
Last spring, Yesenia ran three marathons to benefit local communities. The first two, in Fresno, were to benefit children in foster homes around the area, and to help a local Rotary club raise money to send to people in need around the world. Next, Yesenia ran a marathon in Tequlia, Mexico, the proceeds of which went to help the community in the small town, where everyone, even children, work to support their families.
Her love of running helped her center achieve NAEYC accreditation — involving the center in marathons around Fresno fulfilled her community involvement requirement.
“It was something different, something we hadn’t seen other centers do before,” she said.
In her home of Fresno, California, Yesenia tries to run marathons often. One she ran in March stands out to her in particular:
“It was a 5K run, and some of the children from our center participated, and our assistant director,” she said. “The AD’s 11-year-old daughter is in a wheelchair, and I did the whole run pushing her in her chair, and we came in first place.”
More and more, parents from the center are joining in on the fun.
“I just talk to our parents and post running events on our community bulletin board,” said Yesenia.
Yesenia’s next run, a benefit to help feed families in need in Fresno, is scheduled for October 4, and she hopes to get at least three parents from each classroom to join her.
“I have parents who have joined different running clubs because of the running we do here,” said Yesenia. “We had a parent who had a heart attack, open heart surgery, and now he’s running.”
To Yesenia, running is the perfect activity, because everyone can be included, “Fresno is a big community with runners of all ages and the runs allow for all skill levels –you don’t have to be a marathon runner, you can walk!”