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Exceeding Expectations, a program in the San Bernardino School District that serves an inner-city population, is designed to encourage at-risk kids to move their lives in a positive direction, using the sport of triathlon as the vehicle.
The goal is not to develop the kids into elite athletes, but rather to offer them opportunities to participate in a lifestyle that is healthy, goal-oriented and very unlike that which they experience in their everyday lives. We strive to replace negative influences with positive role models and to instill in the kids a powerful new discipline of setting measurable goals and working hard to achieve them.
Exceeding Expectations was created by Cherie Gruenfeld in 2000 to re-direct the lives of at-risk inner-city kids in San Bernardino, California, using the sport of triathlon. At any one time there are about 40-45 kids in the program learning to swim, bike and run, and they participate in a variety of races in Southern California. The objective is not to turn them into athletes, but to teach them how to set firm goals and work hard to achieve them.
The results thus far have been spectacular: grades are way up, behavioral problems are way down, kids are becoming the first in their families to graduate high school, and some are even headed for college, which would have been unthinkable before the program was created.
Exceeding Expectations is supported entirely by private donations. Administrative expenses are held to an absolute minimum so that nearly all the donated money goes right to the kids, for such things as race entry fees, bicycle maintenance, helmets and shoes, transportation to events, coaching and counseling, tutoring and race-day nutrition. Now that some of the kids are getting older, we are also starting to help out with post-high school education to make sure they have every possible opportunity to be successful.
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