Mother and daughter on the run together for good health
When Veronica and Jennifer Rojo crossed the finish line of the inaugural El Buen Camino 5K race on April 6, it was hand in hand.
That’s fitting because it was Veronica, Jennifer’s mother, who three years ago pushed her daughter to join the Girls on the Run program of El Buen Pastor Latino Community Services. The agency is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit partner of El Buen Pastor Presbyterian Church on Tim Road in Winston-Salem.
The Rojos were thrilled to be part of the El Buen Camino 5K, which was sponsored by Wake Forest Baptist Health. Jennifer, 11, spoke for herself and translated for her mother to explain why. She smiled when asked how much she likes the non-competitive running program Girls on the Run.
“It’s not exactly my favorite thing to do,” she says, sheepishly. But she joined at her mom’s urging. “She wanted me to get some exercise.”
And it has helped with mother-daughter bonding; the two run together on Thursdays with Girls on the Run, and both also run a second day. They do 3-mile loops around El Buen Pastor.
On a sun-splashed Saturday at Wake Forest University, the Rojos were joined by a couple of dozen other Girls on the Run and family members, part of a diverse group of close to 250 runners overall, novices and veterans alike.
“Running just builds community and builds bridges between different groups of people,” says Jen Henson, race director for the El Buen Camino run.
She says once the idea hatched a year ago to expand the concept of Girls on the Run into creating a competitive 5K, it grew from just having a race “to the idea of a whole wellness initiative.” At a kickoff event to promote the race, 150 people turned out for health assessments such as having their blood pressure or glucose checked. Many people went into training for the race.
“The 5K turned into a great collaborative thing for people to become involved," says Henson, who considers herself “a good solid jogger,” as opposed to a runner.
She first decided to volunteer with the Girls on the Run program through the Junior League of Winston-Salem. She sees running as a great way to link health and community, especially with the Latino population.
For many Latinos, “running was not on the radar before. Now not only are they talking about running, but they’re talking about how to make food healthier, how to cook what they normally cook in a healthier way.”
The El Buen Camino run, expected to become an annual event, also provides volunteering opportunities for Wake Forest University and Wake Forest School of Medicine students. Coincidentally, this year’s April 6 race date was also Pro Humanitate Day, which means “for humanity” and is the university’s motto.
Norma-May Isakow was an early organizer of El Buen Camino and is associate director of Wake Forest’s Institute for Public Engagement. She credits Gary Gunderson, vice president of faith and health ministries at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, with helping to expand the overall message of the event.
“He just feels that the way to extend health awareness is through community and to make links between the hospital and the community through community organizations such as El Buen Pastor Latino Community Services,” she says. “I’m totally with him on that.”
“This is a community that a lot of people don’t seem aware of, so the race strengthens the connection that makes the people of the El Buen community feel more a part of the greater Winston-Salem community,” she says. “I’m very excited about creating a greater bond between everyone in Winston-Salem and opening the opportunity for connection.”
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|Community Financial Support|| ||Mother and daughter on the run together for good health|| ||Day of Caring provides health resources for those in need|| ||Empowering and engaging women and girls|| ||Teaching families to live a healthier lifestyle|