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Runner Taylor Newman campaigns for mental health – iRunFar

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Ultracoureur Taylor newman stood on his cousin’s grave Sam dukas at Pine Grove Cemetery in Lynn, Massachusetts, with a glimmer of hope alongside deep sorrow. He had been moving for four days. Newman had just run 300 miles to this resting place from his New Jersey home to raise awareness about drug addiction.

A drug overdose claimed Sam’s life. His addiction was fueled by a desire to feel normal amidst life’s turmoil and lack of balance, Newman shared, and this threat has become more prevalent than never in the United States.

The highest number of overdose deaths on record in a one-year period occurred until May 2020: more than 81,000 deaths, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Newman is the co-founder and executive director of Move for Mind, a nonprofit that provides mental health education to youth and community members through a movement-based learning model focused on the race.

Newman has crossed state borders to raise awareness about his nonprofit organization’s inaugural Addiction Sucks campaign and his organization’s mission. As a result, supporters donated $ 11,860 to fund the cause. Move for Mind, which launched in April 2020, offers in-person presentations at schools, group support at race meetings, online tools, awareness campaigns and events.

Taylor Newman at the end of her 300 mile run to the grave of her cousin Sam Dukas at Pine Grove Cemetery in Lynn, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Taylor Newman.

“The mission of Move for Mind is to inspire people to use running as a means of improving mental health. We’re a non-profit mental health advocacy organization – in short, running saved my life, ”Newman says.

Newman grew up in Lebanon Township, New Jersey, a rural farming community of 5,000 people. His parents still live in the house where he, his older brother and younger sister were raised.

He grew up playing soccer, baseball and competing in high school track and field. He was part of the varsity team as a relay sprinter and as an individual. “I was the worst 400-meter hurdler, but I was a good 400-meter runner,” Newman says.

After high school, Newman briefly studied at Ithaca College in New York City before transferring to the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland, Ohio, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in symphonic performance and percussion. Today he is back in New Jersey and working as a performer and educator, which includes teaching the marching band in schools in Piscataway Township, New Jersey, and performing with artists in New York.

“I had the chance to study with Jamey Haddad, one of the greatest percussionists in world music and jazz in the country. He exposed me the idea of ​​your own lineage and family history, asking me who are you, where are you from and what does this mean to you? I went through these same guiding principles and questions when I discovered ultrarunning, ”says Newman, who quit track and field while studying music.

It was then that his depression got out of hand. “My depression, which I’ve always had, got unmanageable in college. In 2017, I was really struggling, suicidal and wanted to end my life. What the running community stands for is strong and can help people improve their spirits. Everyone should be committed to improving our mental health in the same way that we are committing our physical health, ”he says.

Taylor Newman and her family at Thanksgiving

Newman (top right) with his family at Thanksgiving in 2021, with sister Kelsey (bottom left), cousin Madison Dukas (bottom right) and brother Alex (top left). Photo courtesy of Taylor Newman.

Newman found ultrarunning thanks to a podcast interview with Courtney dauwalter after running the Moab 240 miles. “I didn’t know people could run 100 or 240 miles; I was intrigued. Courtney and other ultrarunners spoke about the mental side of the sport, and I knew I had to try it. If I could start with a goal of running 100 miles, I thought that would help, ”Newman said. He was right.

For two years, he drove miles around suburban Cleveland and Lake Cleveland, then completed the 2018 Cleveland Marathon. In January 2019, the same month, he started training for his first ultramarathon – the 50 Mile Ultra Marin Challenge in Sausalito, Calif .– Sam is deceased and Newman began to imagine Move for Mind during his training runs.

He reached out to another runner, Emilie Kudeck, who had expressed that she wanted to organize a 5k run for mental health, to see if they could team up.

“Emily is a clinical mental health counselor and she is active. She also wanted to spread the word about running or moving to improve her mental health. After working on planning a 5k for a few months, we realized we wanted to form a nonprofit organization, ”Newman explains.

Taylor Newman - Moab 240 2021

Newman runs the 2021 Moab 240 Mile. Photo: Jason Peters

For 2022, the main goal of Move for Mind is education awareness in schools. “We have developed a curriculum that we can offer to young people through our outreach activities. The aim is to provide information and fill the gaps in mental health education that young people in our country are receiving – or most likely not receiving. We want to create an open, honest and comfortable space for them to talk, ”says Newman.

In the first quarter of the year, the program will launch in the field with partners in New Jersey, California and Connecticut before expanding to other school districts.

Here’s how the program works: “The program is structured to facilitate conversations and explore mental health. He first asks, “What does mental health mean to you?” Adults can use clinical terms such as depression or anxiety. Children can think about homework, stress, or going through puberty.

“The next step is to apply sanity internally and ask yourself how you deal with these things to understand our emotions. The final step is to apply what we have learned outside to our friends, family and communities: How do we raise awareness and talk about mental illness to help others? “

Taylor Newman Genesis Program 2

Newman talks with a student of the Genesis Program, an alternative program in the Wilton, Connecticut, school district that helps implement programming for Move for Mind. Photo: Move for the Spirit

Schools will be able to choose from several course options, including a presentation, a one-day workshop paired with running activities, or a 12-week program. An iteration of the program will eventually be available virtually.

In addition to working with young people, over the next few years Move for Mind aims to organize chapters nationwide to host group races that provide non-clinical support and dialogue on mental health.

The organization plans to host another Addiction Sucks campaign, which “sheds light on a huge health issue in our country and is raising funds” for the organization, said Newman, who took the training for certified coaching in. peer recovery through the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) organization. [Author’s Note: Supervised hours are required to secure a state honored credential.]

The association will also be hosting its very first 5k event, which has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re excited to launch some truly meaningful and tangible ways to bring our mission to our communities and provide a tangible way for people to start their own local chapter,” said Newman.

So far, Move for Mind has partnered with the Fleet Feet Burbank running store in Burbank, Calif. To host meetups. “If people are inspired by the mission and want to support us in any way, connect with us and talk to us,” Newman invites.

Taylor Newman - Genesis Program 1

Newman begins a short run with students from the Genesis program during the activity portion of the programming of Move for Mind. Photo: Move for the Spirit

Newman has more race goals for next year. too much. In 2020, Newman placed second in the Sangre de Cristo Ultras 200 miles in Westcliffe, Colorado – his first-ever 200-mile race – and crossed the finish line of the Moab 240 Mile in Moab, Utah, in October 2021. For 2022, he plans to tackle a 72-mile route on fastest known along the New Jersey stretch of the Appalachian Trail on September 4, for its anniversary.

Newman says, “I want to live a long, healthy life filled with exciting experiences. I started running for personal reasons – it’s literally life or death. Running tends to be my alone time and I use running to explore my mind and improve my mental health. Next year, I look forward to the small races. My biggest running goal is to connect more with the community.

To get involved, subscribe to the Move for Mind newsletter, follow and identify the organization on Instagram and Facebook, contribute financially and send an email if you want to start a local chapter.

Call for comments

  • Have you overcome an addiction using running or know someone who has?
  • How do you engage with your community on these types of difficult topics?
Taylor Newman - Practice at Westcliff Colorado

Newman on the run in Colorado in 2020. Photo: Taylor Newman.


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