Running a marathon often seems like one of the most daunting tasks a person can take on, regardless of their age. But with Dreamfar, students at the high school work towards this very goal.
Dreamfar High School Marathon, based in the Greater Boston area, “teaches high school students that anything is possible, even completing a marathon,” according to their website. Specifically, the program helps students train for the Providence Marathon in May each year.
“The goal of DreamFar is to complete, not compete, which supports community and relationship building among a cohort of students at the high school. The goal is always to run at a conversational pace which supports the endurance required for a marathon while also allowing opportunities to get to know people,” said Ms. Christine Morrissey, Dreamfar team leader at Wellesley High School.
Last school year, Morrissey, a special education teacher, discovered Dreamfar through the Guidance department and decided to start a team as an Enrichment Recreation Program (ERP). To gain interest, she advertised in the morning announcements, held informational sessions, and posted fliers. One of these fliers caught Derek Mui ’20’s attention and prompted him to join the group because of the unique opportunities Dreamfar offered that traditional teams did not.
“Running and sports always interested me, but since I was a part of academic clubs that took place after school, the time commitment of track or cross country seemed too much. Furthermore, I was not a competitive athlete, and Dreamfar encourages people that completing the marathon is what matters, not the time,” Mui said. “Hence, competing against myself and the low time commitment made me attend the first Dreamfar meeting which made me fall in love with running.”
As a junior, Mui became a leader in the group and completed the Providence Marathon last year. He has persistently spread the word about Dreamfar, and the team at the high school has seven members this year: Emily Banthin ’20, Gracie Callanan ’20, Alex Mosley ’20, Derek Mui ’20, Edward Pham ’20, Danis Sjuib ’21, and Audrey Turco ’22.
As the WHS team leader, Morrissey plans runs and races and mentors the students.
“Mostly, I would consider myself a facilitator because I really like the program to feel like a team and collaborative — with students to have the opportunity to take on leadership roles, coordinating workouts, selecting routes, etc. I’m available for students if they have Dreamfar, school, or outside concerns. I think it’s really powerful for high school students to connect with adults in more non-academic related activities, clubs, or projects,” Morrissey said.
Along with Morrissey, Wellesley High School parent Susan Mix, an avid runner, leads the group.
Typically, the Dreamfar group at the high school trains four times a week. Mondays are two to three-mile short runs. Wednesdays are cross-training, such as yoga or strength training. Thursdays are four to six-mile medium runs. Saturdays are long runs, between four and 20 miles.
For these Saturday training runs, as well as races, the WHS group joins Dreamfar teams from Needham High School, Newton North High School, Newton South High School, MATCH Boston, Brookline High School, and Somerville High School.
“The program does a great job of integrating students from different schools and grade levels through running families and team-building activities,” Morrissey said.
Although team members from different schools might not know each other, the supportive atmosphere of the Dreamfar program brings everyone together.
“There’s a strong sense of cohesiveness to help each other toward a common goal,” Pham said.
Due to Coronavirus, the Dreamfar group does not currently meet to run and the 2020 Providence Marathon has been cancelled.