TRILATINO JUNIOR PROGRAM
The TriLatino Junior Youth Development Program was founded in 2011 to promote healthy lifestyles in
low-income minority youth in the South Bronx through physical exercise, health education and personal mentorship. We began with eight participants in our first year and have since more than doubled in size, all while seeing many of our athletes return to the program for a second, third or fourth year experience. During the 2017 school year, the TriLatino Junior Program hopes to bring 18+ TriLatino Juniors across the finish line of a sprint distance triathlon or age-appropriate race distance triathlon.
Each one will be physically fit, more knowledgeable in matters of heath and nutrition and with a greater degree of self confidence than when they began.
We are excited to continue our strong partnerships with the Bronx Academy of Letters High School (BAL), Hostos Community College, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Lincoln Medical Center in the delivery of this program. In conjunction with these committed community partners, we will ensure our 2017 TriLatino Junior Youth Development Program continues to have a profound impact on students in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. Specifically, students at the Bronx Academy of Letters complete a 14 to 16-week triathlon training program in preparation for a racing competition in an actual triathlon. This program is life-altering, intensive and seeks to address the multifaceted needs of our Bronx youth through:
• Triathlon training and competition
• Academic support and tutoring
• Healthy Lifestyle Workshops (HLW)
• Healthcare and nutrition Access
• Family and community outreach
The goal of the TriLatino Junior program is to simultaneously train our Juniors to complete their race goals and to bring them through a comprehensive and holistic personal development program that endeavors to improve their academics, self-confidence, knowledge and awareness, while also engaging them as ambassadors of health to their families and broader communities. These changes will ultimately translate into reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in this underserved community.
TriLatino Junior participants become physically fit during their participation in the program. They will internalize fitness habits that will lead them to stay fit in the offseason and will share their fitness knowledge with their families, classmates and the broader community.
Through participation in the program, TriLatino Junior athletes will better understand how their decisions impact their health and nutrition. They will put this knowledge into practice and will share it with their families, classmates and communities.
TriLatino Junior participants will realize improved academic performance, gain greater discipline and decrease behavioral issues at school as a result of their participation.
We will accomplish these objectives by executing the following program components at the absolute highest level of quality:
Triathlon Training and Competition
In preparation for the Triathlon, athletes undertake a 14 to 16-week triathlon training program under the expert instruction of USAT certified coaches. Specifically, students train in running (at Yancey Track, on the hallowed grounds of the former Yankee Stadium), swimming (at Hostos Community College), Yoga (at Bronx Academy of Letters) and cycling (in Central Park). Many of our athletes begin the program unable to swim yet improve enough to participate in full open water swims in the lead up to their triathlon. The training schedule is 4-5 days a week, averaging 5-7 hours per week and parents and mentors are encouraged to attend sessions. TriLatino provides all necessary equipment and practices are extremely safe and well disciplined. At the culmination of the program, students complete a sprint-distance triathlon which consists of a 1/3-mile swim, 10.5-mile bike, and 3-mile run. Several of our athletes have placed (coming in 1st, 2nd or 3rd) in their age group at these events and two of our athletes have earned scholarships to attend the USA Triathlon Northeast Junior Triathlon Skills Camp due to their exceptional academic and athletic performance. Others have continued to train in the offseason with our adult team.
To qualify, the academic criteria used for acceptance in TriLatino, a student needs to have a passing average. Most of the Juniors are not straight A students and many of the students that we serve struggle academically. Given the intensity of our training program, and the fact that we are committed to improving our students’ academic performance, we have significantly bolstered the academic support aspects of our program. Students participate in formalized study halls managed by Bronx Academy of Letters teachers several times a week. We have also instituted a formalized grade check-in and improvement process to ensure that students prioritize areas where they are falling behind or struggling academically. Coaches are kept informed on attendance/detention records of the Juniors in order to address any potential problems immediately. If attendance/detention does become a persistent problem, the Junior is made aware that he/she may no longer be allowed to participate in the program. Finally, we are leveraging students’ mentors to check in frequently on academic progress, support students in effectively managing their commitments, giving guidance with end of semester projects and even offering tutoring.
To support them through completion of the program and to provide a positive role model, all of our Junior athletes are paired with an adult TriLatino triathlete as a mentor. We developed our mentorship program based upon capacity building consulting services that we received from the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. Our Program Director, Jerusha Ramos, assures that all mentors qualify through background checks, are meeting program expectations, communicating with their Juniors, attending workouts and supporting their students academically. We also hold periodic community service and social events to further cement the mentor/mentee relationship. Community service during events such as the 5 Boro Bike Tour and the NYC Marathon is a component of the program allowing Juniors to not only have the opportunity to give back to the athletic community of New York, but also positively represent their local Bronx community where they live. Many of our mentors are impressive athletes and professionals in their own right and we have found this relationship to be a real draw for students to continue with the program over multiple years.
Healthy Lifestyle Workshops (HLW)
The HLW series component of the TriLatino Junior triathlon training program consists of nutrition education for the students and their families. Led by licensed doctors from Lincoln Medical Center, students have seminars on, but not limited to, healthy eating, food selection, food label reading, diet-related diseases, drugs/alcohol/tobacco, and training and competition diets. Additionally, students maintain food journals for a week at the beginning of the program to baseline their eating habits. Parents and families of the Juniors are also welcomed and encouraged to attend the HLWs. We simultaneously make it clear to the Juniors that the knowledge that they are amassing is intended to be shared with their friends, families and communities, so that they can embrace their roles as ambassadors of health to their community.
Healthcare and Nutrition Access
We require and facilitate physicals for all athletes at the start and end of the training program. These physicals often uncover chronic and acute ailments that had previously gone undiagnosed and untreated. Additionally, we have discovered that students’ dietary habits are often profoundly impacting their ability to succeed in school, let alone complete a rigorous athletic training program. For this reason, we provide healthy snacks for all students prior to and following our study halls and training sessions.
Family and Community Outreach
We understand that engaging parents is critical to ensuring the wellbeing and success of our athletes. To facilitate engagement and educate families on health and nutrition, we invite parents to attend all aspects of the training program including practices, healthy lifestyle workshops, and mentorship events. We also transport all family members to the Triathlon race site and hold a family friendly pre-race celebration. We are encouraged that we have had pairs of siblings on our past teams and that we continue to receive high interest from the young siblings of past participants.
The TriLatino Junior program exists as a collaboration between the Bronx Academy of Letters – through which we run the program and where the Juniors attend school; the Lincoln Medical Center; Big Brothers Big Sisters of NY and their Bronx Volunteer Coalition (BxVC) – TriLatino is a lead community partner of the BxVC and our TriLatino Junior Youth Development Program Director completed BBBS’s Mentoring Supervisor Certificate Program; and Hostos Community College – the TriLatino Junior team swims at the Hostos pool twice a week and conducts study halls there before swim practice.