Tulane graduate leads youth running program

The local nonprofit Youth Run NOLA helps 10-to-18-year-olds throughout Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes hit their stride in developing self-esteem and healthy living habits.

“Running relies on support and is accessible and affordable for everyone,” said Denali Lander, a 2009 graduate of the School of Liberal Arts and executive director of Youth Run NOLA. “I grew up believing that sports had the power to build communities. The goal here is to create a community of healthy young leaders through running.”

Lander helped form Youth Run NOLA while working as a teacher in 2010. Experienced runners joined students for after-school runs.

“The goal of Youth Run NOLA is to create a community of healthy young leaders.”

— Denali Lander, executive director of Youth Run NOLA

Thirty local schools participate in the organization’s eight-month training program. Students network with peers, coaches and volunteer running buddies during weekly practices and monthly events.

Tulane first-year student Leo Gutierrez works with the organization as a running buddy. A longtime Youth Run NOLA participant and Posse scholar, Gutierrez regularly provides support to students during local races like the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.

“After receiving a kidney transplant in 2012, I wanted to find a way to promote the longevity of my new kidney, so when I joined Youth Run NOLA, they provided me with the opportunity, resources and encouragement to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Gutierrez.

Like this article? Keep reading: The More You NOLA: 4 ways to get fit outside the gym