It's more than a workout. This group's 5:15 a.m. runs are changing lives.
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When a person experiences homelessness, it can quickly affect their self-worth.

Losing a safe place to reside is only the beginning, as many individuals experiencing homelessness report feeling isolated and lonely. And their self-confidence can take a devastating blow.


GIFs via Back on My Feet.

In 2007, Anne Mahlum founded Back on My Feet, an organization dedicated to empowering the homeless through running and community-building.

26-year-old Mahlum was a runner in Philadelphia whose daily route took her past a local rescue mission.

According to the group's site, Mahlum knew firsthand the positive impact running could make on a person after taking up the sport as a teen. She contacted the shelter and offered to start a running club for the men living there.

Back on My Feet founder Anne Mahlum.

On July 3 of that year, Mahlum and the men at the rescue ran their first mile together, and Back on My Feet was born.

Through running and teamwork, members of Back on My Feet undergo a true emotional transformation.

Each team consists of people experiencing homelessness and community volunteers. Proper shoes and workout clothes are provided through donations. Team members run or walk three days a week before dawn, tracking their attendance and distance after each run. Accommodations are available for members with physical challenges.


But for many members, it's about much more than miles.

"We're a primary service in which the wellness of the individual is our long-term pursuit," Victor Acosta, executive director of the Boston chapter of Back on My Feet, told Upworthy. "So while the primary objective is the 5:15 a.m. runs and walks, we also provide wellness programming such as nutrition and yoga, and self-advocacy programming to help the individual."

The result? A monumental shift in attitude, confidence, and self-worth.

Through the Next Steps phase of the program, Back on My Feet assists members in their transition to independence.

Once members run with the team for 30 days and achieve 90% attendance, they're eligible for the Next Steps phase of the program. Next Steps offers members job training, skills workshops, and access to employment opportunities.

Back on My Feet "helps me physically, mentally, and spiritually," said member Lee, in a testimonial for Back on My Feet Chicago. "And the financial courses have even helped me budget my money. Basically, Back on My Feet has just helped me grow."

Since launching in Philadelphia, Back on My Feet has expanded to 11 chapters in major cities across the country.

Back on My Feet is quite literally on the move, with teams in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Austin, New York City, Indianapolis, and more, with countless opportunities to grow. The organization now serves hundreds of new members each year.

Eight years and nearly half a million miles later, Back on My Feet is stronger than ever.

Since 2009, Back on My Feet has served over 5,000 people experiencing homelessness. 46% have gone on to secure employment and/or permanent housing.

And that's what it's all about.

Because regardless of personal circumstance, everyone deserves the opportunity to build a community of their own, work hard, and remind themselves just what they're capable of.

Back on My Feet members share their stories in this moving video.

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Davina Agudelo was born in Miami, Florida, but she grew up in Medellín, Colombia.

"I am so grateful for my upbringing in Colombia, surrounded by mountains and mango trees, and for my Colombian family," Agudelo says. "Colombia is the place where I learned what's truly essential in life." It's also where she found her passion for the arts.

While she was growing up, Colombia was going through a violent drug war, and Agudelo turned to literature, theater, singing, and creative writing as a refuge. "Journaling became a sacred practice, where I could leave on the page my dreams & longings as well as my joy and sadness," she says. "During those years, poetry came to me naturally. My grandfather was a poet and though I never met him, maybe there is a little bit of his love for poetry within me."

In 1998, when she left her home and everyone she loved and moved to California, the arts continued to be her solace and comfort. She got her bachelor's degree in theater arts before getting certified in journalism at UCLA. It was there she realized the need to create a media platform that highlighted the positive contributions of LatinX in the US.

"I know the power that storytelling and writing our own stories have and how creative writing can aid us in our own transformation."

In 2012, she started Alegría Magazine and it was a great success. Later, she refurbished a van into a mobile bookstore to celebrate Latin American and LatinX indie authors and poets, while also encouraging children's reading and writing in low-income communities across Southern California.

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via Pixabay

As people get older, social isolation and loneliness become serious problems. Many find themselves living alone for the first time after the death of a spouse. It's also difficult for older people to maintain friendships when people they've known for years become ill or pass away.

Census Bureau figures say that almost a quarter of men and nearly 46% of women over the age of 75 live alone.

But loneliness doesn't just affect those who reside by themselves. People can feel lonely when there is a discrepancy between their desired and actual relationships. To put it simply, when it comes to having a healthy social life, quality is just as important as quantity.

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