Kids of STEEL program was named 2015 Youth Program of the Year during the 2016 Running USA Industry Conference in Los Angeles, Feb. 10-12. As part of the award, P3R will receive a $10,000 youth program grant.

"The future of our sport comes from youth programs that get younger generations moving," said Running USA CEO Rich Harshbarger. "Few programs can match the success of bringing kids into running than P3R's Kids of STEEL program and we're excited to name them our 2016 Youth Program Award recipient."

The Kids of STEEL program is a physical activity and nutrition program designed to motivate children to pursue quality nutrition and an active lifestyle by incorporating exercise and healthy eating habits into their daily routine. The program is offered free of charge to any interested classroom, school or youth organization.

As part of the program, children choose one of three training plans (Toddler Trot, Kids Marathon or 5K) and complete the appropriate physical activity and nutrition goals.  Children are encouraged (though not required) to complete the program by running in one of three races during the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events.

“We are honored to be recognized as ‘Youth Program of the Year’ by our industry peers,” said P3R CEO Patrice Matamoros. “Our team is passionate about working with the youth in our area, and we are committed to instilling a love of running and healthy habits for all generations.”

Since 2011, the program has helped close to 16,000 children achieve their healthy lifestyle goals. More than 145 schools and community organizations, and 6,000 children are participating in 2016, a program record.

To serve children in neighborhoods without a safe place to play or to buy healthy foods, P3R created Project R.U.N. (Reaching Underserved Neighborhoods) in 2014. Project R.U.N. offers additional support to community-based organizations who want to offer Kids of STEEL by providing on-site coaching, food tastings, a new pair of running shoes (if requested), free registrations and free transportation to the Toyota Pittsburgh Kids Marathon.  

“The number of community organizations requesting to be included in Project R.U.N. exceeds the number we can work with in a given program year,” Matamoros said. “This grant from Running USA will allow us to extend the reach of the program and serve more youth in Pittsburgh.”