GO! St. Louis mission: To encourage individuals and families in the St. Louis region to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle year-round, with a award winner focus on youth programs and reducing childhood obesity.

Q| How long have you been a volunteer?
A| Fifteen years.

Q| What made you interested in this particular cause?
A| I’ve always been active and a runner. I don’t remember how Nancy (GO! founder Nancy Lieberman) and I connected, but when she brought up the idea for Read, Right & Run Marathon, a fitness program that also focused on literacy and character building, I was sold. I’m a PE teacher at Keysor Elementary, and I spend a lot of time with my students. Good character is a big part of their development. With this program, I have an opportunity to connect with kids on three different levels. I’ve always believed that movement increases brain function. The fact that running is a daily part of fitness in our school is huge. I’ve had so many parents tell me they’ve never seen their kids want to run before. They love it.

Q| What kind of volunteer work are you involved with?
A| I was one of a few teachers who helped Nancy start the Read, Right & Run Marathon program 15 years ago. Back then, I was teaching in the Parkway School District, and I had 20 kids in my first group. There were only a few hundred kids total participating the first year. Now, I have 126 at Keysor alone. It’s been a wild ride. The kids sign up to read 26 books, ‘right’ the community with 26 good deeds and run 26.2 miles over a six-month period. (The last 1.2 miles is run in Forest Park as part of GO! St. Louis’ marathon weekend.) I have a running club that meets every Wednesday morning before school, and I tell my students that even if they can’t run a mile, they can for sure walk it! Most of my kids run more than 2 miles each time we meet, and every kid can run a 10-minute mile. I’ll check in to make sure they are staying on schedule with their reading, and then we talk about doing the right thing. A lot of students set up lemonade stands and give the money to the school as one of their good deeds. I help the kids set goals for the program and let them know that a plan is just a wish unless you have a goal. This program gives them incentives for setting goals and being active. I make a huge board that lists all the students who are participating and tracks their activity at home and at school with color-coded mile cards and shoe tokens. The kids love the positive feedback, and they really love getting their medals on race day. Most of their parents are involved in running, and they think it’s cool to be like mom and dad.

Q| If you could do anything for the organization, what would it be?
A| My dream is to have elementary and middle school planning committees for Read, Right & Run so the kids feel part of the program. It would be like a kid-level board so they understand what it takes to put on an event. I think if we had some kind of leadership roles for the kids, they could understand what a nonprofit is and what it takes to make one work. You don’t take ownership until you do the planning.

In the Words of GO! St. Louis: “Robin Ehrlich is a very progressive and creative teacher. She and two other committee members helped implement the inaugural Read, Right & Run Marathon program, which began with 16 schools and 400 students. Throughout the 15 years, she has greatly influenced the program not only as a role model for other school coordinators, but also as an important resource. As the program evolved, she guided the organization in developing instructional materials for teachers and journals for students. Every year, she motivates and trains more than 100 students at Keysor Elementary School for the program, while also trying to involve their parents in fitness activities.”

meet the GO! St. Louis boardRO-Go!-St-Louis_1Seated: Carlton Adams, Mastercard; Mona Langenberg, Nancy Lieberman, both of GO! St. Louis; Paul Gallant, PJG Associates; Jill Fisher, community volunteer; Ben Uchitelle, consultant. Standing: Gina Cochran, Kerber, Eck & Braeckel; Beth McCarter, Dunlap & McCarter; Vic Richey, ESCO Technologies; Katrina Pon, McCarthy; Sean Gannon, SAIC; Kathleen Nelson, consultant; Mark D’Amico, Monsanto; Tom Sherman, PNC; Teri Griege, Powered by Hope; Tim Kessler, Express Scripts. Not pictured: Nancy Cragg, The Work Number; Tom Young, KPMG LLP

Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton

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