CRESSKILL, N.J. — Madelin LoBue of Cresskill noticed two years ago that the younger of her two sons, Charlie, was shutting down in some social situations.
The 5-year-old was recently diagnosed with selective mutism, and is being treated at a specialized center in the city and in the classroom.
But LoBue knew Charlie needed something else. Something fun. Something less rigid than therapy sessions.
Healthy Kids Running Sessions, it was.
"It's something that allows him to connect with peers outside of his classroom," said LoBue, who has worked in special education for 16 years.
Having his brother, Joseph, 7, and mom as the Cresskill coordinator nearby also helped Charlie ease into things.
The national program just finished its second season in Cresskill. The site was started by Erika Liles who LoBue says has been providing ongoing support since she took over as coordinator this season.
HKRS also has sites in Paramus in Glen Rock.
It's five weeks long and is open to all children in grades K through 8, who compete each week of the series for a chance to earn points and at the end.
But LoBue emphasized that the HKRS is not a competition.
"We make it a big deal that the kids know this is a program to finish, not to win, she said. "We encourage kids to establish healthy lifestyles in a noncompetitive environment."
The Cresskill site's final race is on Sunday, May 7 at Edward H. Bryan Elementary School. The community is encouraged to come and cheer on the runners.