ST. LOUIS, Mo. - USA Track & Field (USATF) and The Hershey Company today announced the launch of a national youth activity initiative as part of a new, seven-year partnership that features “Run Jump Throw,”an educational and learning program developed by USATF and Hershey. The new program will introduce kids ages 7 through 12 to the basic skills of running, jumping and throwing through track and field. Hershey’s Track & Field Games, a youth track and field program launched in the 1970s, will transition to the national Run Jump Throw programin early 2015.
Launching in 2015, Run Jump Throw will use a curriculum developed by USATF. Kids around the country will have the opportunity to participate in fun, hands-on learning events designed to build basic running, jumping and throwing skills and have fun exploring track and field. The program is the key piece of a larger partnership between USATF and Hershey that extends through 2020.
“This new program is a true partnership of two great organizations,” said Bernie Banas, who serves as Hershey’s Vice President of Customer Innovation and Hershey’s Track & Field Games board chair. “As Hershey looked at how to expand the reach and impact of our long-standing commitment to youth activity through track and field, we were inspired by the legacy of our founder, Milton Hershey, and his commitment to youth development through learning. Through partnering with USATF, we look forward to creating more learning opportunities and expanding the reach of our track and field program and the sport as a whole.”
“We are thrilled to bring Hershey on board as a long-term partner and are excited about the work we will do together in the youth activity space,” USATF Chief Executive Officer Max Siegelsaid. “With Run Jump Throw, we are creating a foundational program for track and field as well as all activities and sports. Positively impacting culture and improving lives is something we aspire to achieve, and we couldn’t be more proud to have Hershey as our partner in this effort.”
Siegel and Banas were joined by National Track & Field Hall of Famers Jackie Joyner-KerseeandCarl Lewis in making the announcement Thursday morning at the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) National Convention in St. Louis, Mo.
Run Jump Throw
Using the volunteer-based model that made Hershey’s Track & Field Games successful since 1975, Run Jump Throw events will offer a participation-based model for organizers and participants. USATF will supervise the program. Fundamental skills taught as part of the curriculum will include warm-up, proper running technique for sprinting and distance running, jumping and throwing skills. The clinics will be followed by a “practice meet” for kids to apply their skills.
Children participating in Run Jump Throw will be encouraged to continue to pursue the sport, either through parks and recreation programs, school programs or through USATF clubs and associations.
USATF also will help manage key elements of the Hershey’s Track & Field Games 2014 North American Final weekend in Hershey, Pa., and webcast the meet live on its online broadcasting portal, usatf.tv, on August 2.
As part of the partnership, Hershey will support a range of USATF programs. Beginning in 2015, Hershey will underwrite at least 1,000 youth scholarships to provide free USATF memberships to underserved children interested in pursuing track and field. Hershey will also serve as title sponsor for USATF’s Youth Indoor and Outdoor National Championship Track meets, which collectively feature more than 5,000 young athletes with a wide range of abilities. The championships are hosted in different regions of the country each year to enable more youth and families to partake in national competition.
“Having Hershey support our foundational youth programs will help us elevate and expand our outreach to young athletes,” Siegel added. “This partnership will help ensure that underserved children have a pathway to success while providing an experience that generates happiness and inspiration.”
The partnership with Hershey is USATF’s second major, new partnership announcement in the past 14 months. In February 2013, USATF announced Neustar as the sponsor of the US National Road Racing Championships. The new partnerships mark USATF’s most active and successful sponsorship efforts in more than a decade.