TMC recognizes Acacia Elementary teacher Linda Anderson as a Legendary Teacher

When Linda Anderson turned 40, she got serious about getting fit.

She started walking and before you knew it, she was running short distances.

She was hooked.

The third grade teacher has since run nine marathons, including one up Mount Lemmon for her 50th birthday and too many half-marathons to count. She runs three times a week, including three miles on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and a longer 7 mile run on Saturdays.

She’s shared that love of fitness with students, serving for eight years as a Girls on the Run coach.

For her commitment to building health in her community, Tucson Medical Center honors her on Legendary Teacher Day, held annually the fourth Thursday in September – Sept. 27 this year.

Legendary Teacher Day

TMC selects a special teacher each year to honor on the day, which was established in 2014, is a tribute to teachers and a chance to reflect on those who make differences in the lives of others.

Anderson never thought she’d be a teacher. After a career in the banking industry while raising her two children, Linda began working in the children’s ministry at her church. That inspired her to embark on education studies.

“It’s a calling and I know I am exactly where I need to be, praise God,” she said.

Girls on the Run

When she learned about Girls on the Run in 2011, Anderson was able to combine her passions for teaching and for running. The youth development program teaches life skills, culminating in a 5k to build confidence and a sense of accomplishment in girls. This fall, Acacia has four coaches with two groups of 15 girls each.

Sylvia Brown, who serves as the TMC coordinator of the program, said she was honored to nominate Anderson. “Linda has been a consistent supporter of Girls on the Run, fully supporting the program and the mission,” she said.

As for Anderson, she said she believes in the purpose of the program.

“The girls are at such a pivotal age to learn these things. With third through fifth graders, they are still young, but their foundations are being set. There are things they’ll have to deal with and this program helps teach them and provide them tools to meet these challenges – whether they come next week or years down the road.”

Anderson recalls getting choked up at one year-end celebration, when one girl shared that the program “has changed my life. I was one of the mean girls, but I’m not anymore.”

“I can see girls grow into their own,” she said. “Some are shy coming in and they open up, gaining self-confidence.”

“I believe in the program and the impact it has on these girls. They learn they can do anything they want. They can make decisions on their own.”

This fall’s season, sponsored by TMC and UnitedHealthcare of Arizona, is just getting underway with the girls, who meet twice a week.

“Girls on the Run provides a tremendous opportunity for UnitedHealthcare to help support these Tucson youngsters as they learn to live healthier lives and to become strong, independent and confident women,” said David Allazetta, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Arizona. “We salute Linda Anderson for the commitment she has made to their education and their transformation through running.”

The program also comes at a critical time, when peer pressure starts ramping up, Anderson noted. “The program teaches them to be healthy, not skinny, that they are worthy. We encourage them to see the beauty and self-worth inside of themselves, and we talk about the benefits of moving and taking care of themselves.”

An elementary school teacher’s life is busy by default. Still, taking on the added responsibility of being a coach is not a problem for Anderson. “It’s not extra for me. Its part of what I do. I look forward to it. It’s one area I can make a difference.”

“It’s really cool to watch them encourage each other. We encourage them to be the best you, you can be.” We don’t ask if you beat the other girl. We ask ‘Did you do your best?’”

“Then to see the sheer joy when they finish their first 5K run is so amazing,” she said. “Their smiles are as big as Texas.”

Mission Moment: Nurse heroes saving a life out in the community

When nurses Kimberly Fore and Cindy Sacra agreed to staff the first aid booth at the recent Health Insurance Enrollment & Family Fun Festival in early December, they figured they might help with the small injuries that can come along with community running events.

With three races that morning, including nearly 1,000 girls and their running buddies doing a 5k through Girls on the Run, they figured it would be the usual. Scrapes. Maybe a blister. At worst, a turned ankle.

So in that split second when they heard there was a runner down during a 1-mile running event for men, they thought maybe they’d be patching up a skinned knee.

Fore, the director of TMC Hospice, started loping out to the scene. A passing runner told her it was serious. She broke into a sprint and found the runner in the throes of a serious medical event.

Sacra, the Clinical Informatics team lead, was right behind her, carrying medical supplies.

The two, along with TMCOne front desk service representative Lauren Barnhart, whose son was participating in the race, provided CPR until medics arrived.

In large part because of the speedy reaction of the TMC staff member, the man was revived and taken to the hospital.

While others at the festival were in awe of the heroic work that unfolded before them, Fore and Sacra afterward brushed off any adulation. “We’re nurses. This is what we do,” Fore said. Sacra agreed. “When we have an opportunity to help someone in need, we are always going to respond.”

Barnhart agreed that help was just instinctive. “It was my first reaction to help this gentleman. In the moment I was doing what I do best. It is so rewarding to know I helped save someone’s grandpa, uncle, brother, dad or son.”

But for others, it was a moment that crystallized TMC’s mission.

“Our mission is to provide exceptional health care with compassion. That was on display on this day and I am humbled to work with amazing people who serve our community every day,” said Julia Strange, TMC’s vice president of Community Benefit.

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we will share an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do. Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.

TMC thanks UnitedHealthcare, presenting sponsor of 2016 Girls on the Run 5K

gotrSince 2010, hundreds of girls across Tucson in third through eighth grade have been inspired by Girls on the Run, a unique youth-development program that teaches life skills and builds confidence.

Culminating in a 5K run, to be held on Saturday, Oct. 29, the goal of the program is to unleash a sense of accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.

Tucson Medical Center is proud to welcome UnitedHealthcare as the presenting sponsor of the event, which will draw more than 200 girls from 17 elementary and middle schools to the downtown Tucson course.

“These are key years for girls as they begin to be more concerned about peer opinions and perceived social expectations about appearance,” said Julia Strange, TMC vice president of community benefit. “UnitedHealthcare’s focus on health and wellness makes it an ideal partner in helping us empower girls to develop healthy habits and foster pride in their accomplishments.”

“UnitedHealthcare is grateful for the opportunity to be the presenting sponsor of this year’s Girls on the Run and 5K race, which will help young girls live healthier lives and learn how to become strong, independent and confident women,” said David Allazetta of UnitedHealthcare.

In addition to having a new presenting sponsor, the race also has a new location. Girls on the Run will be included in the 2016 TMC Get Moving Tucson weekend, taking place in downtown Tucson and starting on Church Street immediately north of Congress.

The day will kick off at 7:30 a.m. with the Tucson Lifestyle 5K Run/Walk for all ages, followed by the Girls on the Run 5K at 8:30 a.m. and the 9:30 a.m. Cox Charities Fit Kids One Mile for children under 12.

The following day, the TMC A-Mountain Half-Marathon – the final event of the 2016 Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown – begins at 7 a.m.

“This new format lets girls experience a much broader wellness event in which people are there to support each other and build a stronger Tucson,” said Mary Atkinson, TMC’s director of wellness.

“There’s really nothing like the buzz of race day, and I’m thrilled the community will be there to cheer for these girls as they pursue their goals.”

Proceeds from the TMC Get Moving Tucson Weekend will fund local charities, including Cox Charities, Team Hoyt Arizona, Reid Park Zoo, Child and Family Resources, and the Southern Arizona Roadrunners.

Girls on the Run alumni now cross country team captains

by Paula Nasiatka, GOTR coach, Tanque Verde Elementary

     Captain Carsen, Coach Ventola, and Captain Meg

Captain Carsen, Coach Ventola, and Captain Meg

Meg Healy and Carsen Mastrangelo participated in the first team of Girls on the Run (GOTR) at Tanque Verde Elementary School two years ago. Tanque Verde Elementary had just started the program in the fall of 2012 and this was the first opportunity for girls to sign up with volunteer coaches Paula Nasiatka, Sara Thomas and Elizabeth Medina. GOTR is a national non-profit school based program that encourages 3rd-5th grade girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running.

Meg and Carsen had heard about GOTR and were excited to join the 10 week program. They were natural leaders to the younger girls in the program and mentored other girls during the workouts leading up to their final 5K (3.1 mile) run at the end of the season.

After Meg and Carsen completed 6th grade at Tanque Verde Elementary, they went on to Emily Gray Junior High. In 7th grade they joined the Emily Gray Junior High Bobcats cross country team. This year, in 8th grade, they were elected co-captains by their teammates.

Meg noted that “Girls on the Run was some of the best running training I got before I tried out for the team.”

Carsen reflected on her experience, “Girls on the Run helped to build my confidence. I went from ‘I wonder if I could be a runner’ to ‘I AM a runner!'” I don’t think I would have considered cross country if it hadn’t been for the experience of Girls on the Run.”

In addition to Meg and Carsen, 7th grader Ellie Nasiatka is also a GOTR alumni who is on the Emily Gray Junior High cross country team. Ellie developed a love for running when she participated in GOTR for three years at both Agua Caliente and Tanque Verde Elementary Schools. Ellie also mentored the younger girls when she was a 6th grader last year.

Carsen in full stride during a meet

Carsen in full stride during a meet

Emily Gray Junior High cross-country coach Lindsay Ventola is very familiar with Girls on the Run and feels it’s a wonderful program. She recently moved to Tucson from New Hampshire where she was a running buddy for two girls in a GOTR program in Portsmouth, NH.

Coach Ventola reflects, “Running is more than a sport; it is a lifelong practice, and an important hobby/routine to get kids involved with. GOTR creates an opportunity not only to “hook” girls onto running, but it also provides a place for veteran female runners to teach our young ladies the essential aspects for future success. Physically, running demands a great deal of us. Perhaps more challenging, and more importantly, running requires motivation, determination, self-reflection, and confidence – skills I think every young girl should gain and experience in her life. In college, I worked as a nanny after school. I felt so fortunate to be a running buddy with the two elementary school girls I babysat. On a daily basis, I was inspired by these girls. Throughout the program they challenged themselves, improved their time and stamina, built their confidence, made new friends, and walked away with a love of running. Every kid, especially our young girls, should have the opportunity to feel this sense of accomplishment.

This GOTR ¨effect” has clearly come through in both Meg and Carsen, my two 8th grade captains on the Emily Gray cross country team. From the day I met them, both Meg and Carsen stood out to me as the natural leaders. The program teaches these girls what it means to be a leader, it teaches them to be driven in reaching their goals, it teaches them to be kind and supportive of the younger runners, it teaches them to be the best athlete they can be, and a confident person overall. Whether running in snow and ice, or sand and rocks, the Girls on the Run are gaining a solid foundation for a healthy, successful, and most importantly, happy lifestyle.”

Meg approaching the finish line

Meg approaching the finish line

Girls on the Run was established in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The GOTR curricula, the heart of the program, provides pre-adolescent girls with the necessary tools to embrace their individual strengths and successfully navigate life experiences.   The earliest version of the 24­ lesson curriculum was piloted in 1996 with the help of thirteen brave girls.  Twenty-six girls came the next season, then seventy-five.  In 2000, Girls on the Run International, a 501c3 organization was born.

With the help of over 120,000 volunteers, the Girls on the Run program is now serving over 150,000 girls in 200+ cities across North America each year.  In 2013, Girls on the Run hosted 258 end-of-season 5k events across the United States and Canada. Tucson has a very active GOTR program with Tucson Medical Center as the sponsor. For more information: http://gotrtucson.org/

 

Girls on the Run educate, empower, train

Girls on the Run show off their new running shoes.

Eight weeks into our training and the girls at Whitmore Elementary are playing and training as a supportive team. We show off everyone’s new running shoes, complete with rainbow shoestrings, that everyone will wear at this month’s Girls on the Run 5K run, Nov. 13.

Our thanks to New Balance and Fleet Feet Sports Tucson for providing the shoes to all the Tucson Girls on the Run! The shoes arrived Oct. 4, and the girls were so excited! With only a little over a month left before the New Balance Girls on the Run 5k event, these shoes are perfect to help the girls train.

Meeting twice a week after school, Kristin Wook and I coach these third- through fifth-grade girls, with one of our goals being to get them prepared to run 3.1 miles. We hope to teach them a whole lot more than just the importance of exercise.

They’re at an age where boys aren’t yet their primary concern, but that’s going to change. It won’t be long before they begin to look to their peers for answers instead of the adults in their lives. That’s only normal. So now is the time to get across messages that we hope will serve them well for a lifetime.

Our  aim is the same as Girls on the Run: educate and empower girls at an early age in order to prevent substance and alcohol use, eating disorders, early onset of sexual activity, sedentary lifestyle, depression, suicide attempts and confrontations with the juvenile justice system.

It seems so simple, but being active in sports help girls and teens grow into confident, self-assured women.  We want them to know and believe that they are in control of who they are and that they are perfect and beautiful just the way they are!

Mary Atkinson, R.D., director of TMC Food & Nutrition, is passionate about promoting wellness. This is her third season coaching Girls on the Run

Girls on the Run of Tucson; More than a Running Program

Girls on the Run of Tucson begins its third season this Fall with a 5k event scheduled for November 13, 2011 in collaboration with the TMC Everyone Runs Half Marathon. The objective of Girls on the Run of Tucson is to educate and empower girls at an early age with the outcome of preventing at-risk activities in their future. Girls on the Run of Tucson is a positive youth development program which combines an interactive curriculum and running to inspire self-respect and healthy lifestyles in pre-teen girls. The core curriculum addresses many aspects of girl’s development – their physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. Lessons provide girls with the tools to make positive decisions that avoid risky adolescent behaviors. The program engages girls in 3rd-5th grade and their families. TMC is introducing the Girls on Track program this fall for girls in 6th-8th grade and their families.

TMC’s mission is to improve the health and wellness of the community. The girls in the program are never forced to run, but they are required to MOVE their bodies in every lesson. The ten-week curriculum trains and prepares the girls for the “end-of-season” 5k run. The training for the run is used as a vehicle to teach the participating girls what wonderful, unique and beautiful people they are! Boosted self-esteem, increased confidence, and a more positive body image are just some of the incredible outcomes parents can expect to see in their daughters. Girls on the Run of Tucson is MUCH more than just a running program.

The buzz surrounding Girls on the Run of Tucson increases with each session. Schools are lined up in wait for each of the next three seasons. Inquiries arrive daily from community volunteers who want to help and be part of the program. We find a role for everyone interested.

The program’s success is driven by a wide base of community support including Tucson pediatricians, engaged individuals, and local organizations like Everyone Runs, Fleet Feet, Southern Arizona Roadrunners, Meet Me at Maynards, Tucson Unified School District, Sunnyside Unified School District, Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, YMCA, Saguaro Girls Scouts, and Pima County Department of Transportation. As caregivers we understand that disease prevention and lifestyle changes begin with early education. Girls on the Run of Tucson brings together in the comfortable and familiar school setting, a balanced educational curriculum that embraces fun, self-empowerment and exercise… the key to life’s future success.

As one Tucson mother said: “For now, my daughter’s goal is to be in good shape. But Girls on the Run does more. It has lifted her horizon and given her something quite positive to focus on. I am so grateful to TMC for this program.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBOka9HzFsw

Girls on the Run was developed by Molly Barker, MSW, and  four-time Hawaii Ironman triathlete, combining her counseling and teaching expertise with research on adolescent issues. The innovative, experiential program combines training for a 5k event with life-changing, confidence building lessons that enhance the physical and mental health of 8 – 12 year old girls. To learn more, visit http://gotrtucson.org/our-program-2/our-founder/

Please vote for Tucson Medical Center and Girls on the Run of Tucson in Aetna’s Voices of Health Contest that runs through Oct. 8. http://www.aetnavoicesofhealth.com/agencies/tucson-medical-center.php


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461