Making a Difference: Runner’s High program keeps kids off drugs

NEENAH – A class at Neenah High School is making a difference by teaching teens to say no to drugs and alcohol, and say yes to running.

The group is preparing for the Green Bay Cellcom Half Marathon Sunday in Green Bay.

“If you ask me, it’s like real extreme. I would never see myself doing this,” said senior Brandon Shepherd.

He never considered himself an athlete. But now he is one of seven alternative education students training for a half marathon.

“It’s a way to give kids an outlet away from the destructive behaviors in their lives,” said Brian Borchardt, an alternative education teacher at the school.

Students are in a class called Runner’s High. Borchardt and fellow teacher Catherine Chancellor say they’re trying to provide a healthy way for students to cope with stress and life in general.

“There is a lot of science that would suggest that a lot of the endorphins and the chemical releases in the body when they’re running equate to something like, I guess, getting a high. In fact it was interesting one of the students after running their first two miles they were like, ‘Hey Mr. Borchardt, this kind of feels like it is when I’m high,’” said Borchardt.

Students say they’ve found a new buzz.

“When I’m by myself running, I think about myself a lot. Like, just like what I should do to make things better,” said Shepherd. “Like, drinking, you get your hangovers and they make you all slow and irritable. Smoking makes you all less motivated, like you don’t want to do anything except sit there and smoke.”

“So the running gets me going. And we did a couple morning runs and after doing a run in the morning, I was ready to take on my whole day,” Shepherd continued.

With their newfound drive, Shepherd and his friends say running will help keep them on the right path, even after they’ve crossed the finish line.

Runner’s High received donations from Cellcom, Nike, and RunAway Shoes to support its training.

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