In 2016, at the International Bucharest Marathon and Half Marathon, United Way Romania Foundation promoted health education for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The initiative gave the chance to 100 underprivileged children to practice a healthy lifestyle facilitating their access to sports training, sports equipment and healthy nutrition. To support these children, more than 550 people ran at the Marathon and Half Marathon, 350 of them being employees of several companies in Romania, partners of United Way.

The funds raised this year were used to ensure weekly sport trainings in swimming and aerobics, as well as sports equipment (clothing, shoes) for the 100 children, to equip a day center for them with gym items (dumbbells, jumping ropes, hula hoops, badminton rackets, basketball hoop) and a day trip to the mountains, including hiking and a healthy picnic, for those with the best results. In addition to sports activities, children participate weekly in workshops on how to have a healthy lifestyle starting with adequate nutrition, continuing with personal hygiene, rest, sport and a balanced daily program. The series of workshops even includes interactive sessions of healthy cooking, where every child can learn how to integrate nutrients and vitamins into daily meals, and receive a healthy reward at the end.

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This year’s UWRo project encourages parents’ and children’s education and information regarding the importance of a balanced diet and physical activity in daily life, provides healthy and balanced meals every day, sports equipment according to children’s specific needs and their enrolment in various sports, according to their abilities. For several years now, Romania has been facing an alarming situation regarding nutrition and sports education among children: one third of children aged 8 years is overweight and only one in ten practices sports outside of school. The situation is far worse for disadvantaged families where parents, because of financial shortages, are unable to offer their children any extracurricular activities. Because of the low level of education and information on health, nutrition and sport, half of parents are not even aware of the health problems of their children.

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This year’s United Way ambassadors were Carmen Brumă, TV producer – for the Half Marathon on May 14-15 – and Sorina Fredholm, Creative Director of World Class, and Mikael Fredholm, CEO World Class – for the Marathon on October 8-9. All three have accepted the role of ambassadors of the cause, running in different races at the two events in order to draw attention to the need of disadvantaged children to access health education. Moreover, the ambassadors chose to go beyond their role on the running track and get directly involved in UWRo’s initiative on education and prevention. Thus, Carmen Brumă, Sorina and Mikael Fredholm organized sports and healthy eating workshops for groups of children benefiting from the project initiated by United Way Romania.

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Companies supporting the health education for children from disadvantaged families at both events in 2016 are: Carrefour, Central European Financial Services, Citi, Dacris, Genpact, Kinstellar and Veranda. Among those who ran at the Marathon and Half Marathon on behalf of United Way Romania in 2016 are Steven van Groeningen – President and CEO of Raiffeisen Bank, Andrei Pogonaru – Partner Central European Financial Services and Shibu Nambiar – COO Genpact Europe, Latin America and Africa.

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United Way Romania is one of the organizations officially supported at the International Bucharest Marathon and Half Marathon since their first edition. In 2016, each of the two events brought together over 13,000 participants.