Stride for Awareness
Students today find themselves overwhelmed by the high expectations set for them and will often find unhealthy ways to cope with it.
San Mateo’s Police Activities League and the organization Stride for Awareness came together to shed light on this epidemic by hosting their third annual 5k Run/Walk early Saturday morning.
This event was established as a way to raise awareness in the community about youth health and mental wellness. It also served as a means to build the bond between the legal system and young adults to help guide them towards a positive path in life.
“This is truly a great occasion for people to show our young ones that we are investing in their success and safety,” Emma Howard said. “It is up to us to provide them with the guidance and tools necessary to keep them happy and healthy, both mentally and physically.”
Around 200 runners could be found stretching and talking to one another as they lined up at the start of the 5k race. The course began at Coyote Point Recreation Center, where it looped through the park, down to the harbor, and returned back to the starting point.
Since the event was aimed at people of all ages, participants ranged from competitive athletes to parents pushing their children in strollers.
“I love how this is not a very competitive race because it allows for everyone no matter how young or old to show up and partake in the run,” said David Bennett, a local. “I felt like I could take it slow and enjoy the scenery without feeling the pressure to pick up my pace.”
Runners were encouraged to wear the provided t-shirts to raise awareness about the importance of teenagers’ mental health and well-being.
In addition to the complimentary shirts, each participant received a goodie bag and an award medal. Afterward, everyone was entered into a raffle for a chance to win tickets to see singer Taylor Swift at Levi’s Stadium.
“It looked like everyone was having a good time,” Nika Kuznetsov said. “The clothing was a great touch. I struggle with depression myself, and just being out here with my friends and family makes me feel better.”
For some, this was a way to get more involved in the community while being outside and enjoying a beautiful spring day.
“It is great that we live in a place where mental health is talked about,” Jennifer Clapp said. “Yes, this day is about raising awareness, but for me, it is also about having discussions and learning how to help our next generation deal with stressors like college and drama.”
Meanwhile, others in the race entered to exercise their bodies and train for upcoming marathons.
“I do competitive track so I always try to run as much as I can to prepare for my meets,” said Sophia Rivera, a sophomore. “I am glad I came because I got in a good workout while helping to support the Stride for Awareness cause.”
Many who participated in the event did so not only to support the run’s goals regarding mental health but to promote their own happiness as well.
“The outdoors is always very freeing, and it helps me clear my head,” Clapp said. “It is scientifically proven that exercise produces dopamine in the brain which makes us happier. Therefore, it is important that we encourage others to get outside and participate in events like this.”