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Success + Teamwork + Respect + Inspiration + Determination=Excellence in Character

What is STRIDE?

STRIDE is a fun afterschool character development program for 3rd-5th grade boys.  Throughout the program, the focus is on doing one’s personal best, not competing with each other.  Each STRIDE team meets twice a week for 10 weeks.  Trained volunteer coaches start each session with an introduction of the day’s character building lesson, followed by a warm-up, group discussion, running workout and interactive games.  In each session, the boys build the stamina, techniques and confidence to run a 5K.  Boys who demonstrate excellent character are rewarded with a STRIDE dog tag at the end of the lesson.  At the conclusion of the ten week session, the boys celebrate by participating in a 5K with their coaches, parents and running partners.

STRIDE gives boys the opportunity to share and explore issues that they face in school, in sports, in the community and at home.  They learn the importance of being a good friend, working as a team, saying no to drugs and making good decisions. We want to help boys become young men who KNOW what is right, CARE what is right and DO what is right.

What are the goals of STRIDE?

  • To provide a high quality program for all boys in 3rd thorough 5th grade where the focus is on fun and fitness.
  • To increase the confidence of participants by helping them feel good about themselves and their abilities.
  • To create an opportunity to share information about various topics to help them reach a “whole person” excellence by being better individuals, students, team members, athletes and members of their community.
  • To provide a valuable experience for our coaches with a program that will improve their lives and the lives of the participant.
  • To improve the participants fitness level, by training and preparing them to complete a 5K.
  • Stand up for ourselves and others.

STRIDE SITES for Fall 2017 (3rd-5th grades)


Mattoon Area Family YMCA-  Mondays and Wednesdays -4pm to 5:15pm


Carl Sandburg Elementary- Mondays and Wednesdays-3pm-4:15pm

Jefferson Elementary -Tuesdays and Thursdays-3:15pm-4:30pm


What are the lessons like?

STRIDE curriculum is based on five characteristics that bring about excellence in character:  Success, Teamwork, Respect, Inspiration, and Determination.  Our mission is to encourage boys to exhibit excellence in character in every aspect of their lives, making smart choices, building confidence, and developing leadership attributes.  Ultimately, boys involved in STRIDE build character. STRIDE activities are hosted twice a week for 75 minutes each session.  Our curriculum guides our discussions throughout the 10 weeks and focuses on several topics:

  • It’s okay to be different– Participants learn the importance of developing empathy for others and what if feels like to be left out.
  • Being a good friend-Exercises help boys demonstrate encouragement, acceptance and respect.
  • Getting along-Participants learn the importance of standing up for yourself without being overly aggressive, threatening or physical.
  • Winning isn’t everything– Activities help teach the importance of being a good sport.  We emphasize being a winner in life, not just in sports.
  • And more!

Want to Coach Fall 2017?


Volunteer coaches are needed at program sites throughout Coles County.  Each site requires 3 coaches.


“You often hear the impact a coach can have on an athlete’s life. To have the opportunity to shape the direction of these young boys is exceptionally rewarding. The lessons we teach in the classroom and the skills we build running will hopefully facilitate a strong foundation to a happy healthy lifestyle.”


  • Coaches DO NOT have to be elite runners, just responsible, encouraging individuals that motivate and relate to boys!
  • Coaches must attend a mandatory STRIDE coach training. Coaches must attend CPR training. Training is free!
  • All curriculum and materials are supplied and coaches are provided with a support network and tips along the way.
  • Coaching STRIDE is an extremely rewarding experience. It is amazing to see the transformation that occurs in the boys’ self-esteem and ability.
  • STRIDE meets twice a week for the 10 week program /
  • Teams of coaches encouraged.  It’s fun to coach with a friend.  Head coaches must be 18, but younger junior coaches are welcome too.
  • Stride coaches should attend the Girls on the Run 5K to support the STRIDE team.

Make a difference in a boy’s life. BECOME A STRIDE COACH. Apply today.