The Road Home: Arrowhead resident participates in Nike Running Camp before graduating program

When Armando was placed at Arrowhead, a juvenile behavioral rehabilitation center in the Quad Cities, being on a run team was the last thing on his mind. “When I first got here I really didn’t know I wanted to run or have a big interest in it,” explained Armando.  “But when I got introduced to it I saw it as an opportunity to try something new and I actually liked it.” Armando participated in his first 5K in January at the Resolution Run in Moline and it didn’t take long to see the untapped potential in him as a few runs later he began to place in his age division.  “I started winning trophies and medals at races and I was very surprised and proud of myself too because I came a long way from not knowing what the sport was to actually being good at it and liking it.”

So after careful planning with the Rock Island Probation Department and the support from Sedona Technologies in Moline, Armando was able to attend a four day Nike Running Camp in Amherst Junction, WI at the end of July.  “When I found out that Armando had the opportunity to attend an elite running camp, I brought it to the attention of my supervisor and chief and there first response was ‘what could we do to help make this possible’?  They knew how much he had achieved and how much potential he had that we wanted to offer as much support as possible to help,” explained Rock Island Probation Officer, Kyle Carstens. “To see how far Armando has come while at residential is amazing. Not only have I seen him pick up a new hobby such as running but also he has grown as a person. He has set goals for himself for the future and has gained the skills to know what it takes to reach those goals. If he continues with the mindset and work ethic that he has now I see a very bright future.” 

Coached by five time NCAA champion and former American record holder Chris Solinsky along with many other top level coaches, Armando was able to focus on running along with many other life-skill-styled activities. “At first, I felt shy, not really wanting to talk to the other runners, because I knew they were better than me,” said Armando.  “I was feeling anxious because I knew there was going to be a lot of people that were better than me there but I was just going to give it a try and see how it went.”  And Armando was also surprised to see that a few days into the camp, he was able to keep up and even do better than some of the other runners there. He was also pleasantly surprised that some of the coaches had a few things in common with him as well.  “The coach said he came along way, not really wanting to put effort into the track team and then actually became good,” said Armando. “He was not really good at the sport at first but then helped coached his teammates starting at nineteen years old and then went on from there with his career.”

Arrowhead has been around in the Quad Cities helping at-risk-youth since 1945.  The run team was started in 2012 to give the residents something to do when they were angry, stressed or just needed a few minutes to themselves to clear their head.  The Arrowhead Run Team is now a big part of the QC running community as they run in 20-25 events a year and help set up and/or tear down at all of them. “It’s a good way to get you away from some of your problems,” explained Armando. “It’s a positive outlet that you can do whenever, at the gym, at home or at school.”

And not only is the staff at Arrowhead proud of all the hard work that he has done in the program, Armando knows that he has the support of his family and community behind him and has already talked to his high school cross country coach and hopes to join the team this fall.  “I want to get on a track team and the basketball team and put my time into it and do something with it,” explained Armando. “I always have that drive when I get interested in something that I actually like, I put a lot of time and effort into it. My family said they were proud of me and my peers and staff congratulating me and letting me know how good I was at this; all this has taught me to actually use your resources and do something good with them.”

Armando (center) at Nike Running Camp in Amherst Junction, WI

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