Therapy at Oxbow Academy is more than just sitting in an office talking. We use everyday activities and special recreational opportunities as teaching moments to help the boys better understand themselves and their world. Recently, our students had the opportunity to participate in a relay race. One of our boys wrote about his experience and the life lessons he learned from it. Here is his essay:
On Friday the third of May, Oxbow participated in a race against other group homes. The race consisted of three legs with six people per leg, and was 33.25 miles long. We started the day off by making teams. We decided to make two teams with the amount of people we had. There was an A team consisting of six members, and a B team consisting of 10 people. The B team had extra people to help them run the race. We drove down to Gunnison, where we met with other group homes. We talked about the rules of the race and made sure everyone knew which legs they were running.
The start of the race was pretty cool, because for a few minutes almost all of the runners were neck to neck. What was awesome was that Oxbow broke out in front after a few minutes and finished the first leg in first place. The runner was supported by the rest of his team when they drove past him and cheered, “Attack! Take the lead now!” This gave him the motivation to push himself further than he thought he could and take first place. Once in first he continued to push in order to gain a bigger lead and overall help the team.
The second runner had a longer leg than the first one. He ran two miles.Due to the length of the run he had to overcome the mental barriers that he was fighting with internally to withstand the distance and maintain and widen the lead. He pushed himself past his own point of exhaustion, and knew he would better himself and the team if he worked hard. He finished his leg in first with amazing time and strengthened the lead.
The third runner had the same distance to run as the second runner. He struggled a bit more though. Our team struggled to support this peer because we did not necessarily know which ways he likes to be supported. We drove next to him in the van and gave him positive encouragement, some even got out of the van and ran next to him for support. He struggled by walking. A kid from another group home decided out of the kindness of his heart that he would stop and support our teammate and give him a positive outlook. He then realized what he needed to do and finished the race strong. It taught the group the benefits of good sportsmanship and positive encouragement applies to everyone not just your own team or the people you like.
The fourth runner had a shorter but strenuous leg. He ran a mile up a very steep hill. His run was very difficult and began to give up due to his fatigue. Yet he did not give up because of the support of his teammates and the encouragement he was given. He finished his leg strong and then relaxed in the van, where he received compliments from his team for his accomplishments.
The fifth runner had a longer stretch down and up hill. His leg was 3 miles long. From the beginning of his run, he stayed strong and kept a consistent pace. He struggled to accept the support of the group, but at the same time he was thankful for it. The group was there for him in his time of trial, and supported him throughout the hardest moments of the race. He finished his race and lengthened the lead.
The sixth runner had a mile leg. This runner had a hard time because in his mind he felt physically he was not prepared and he definitely was not prepared mentally. He told himself that he could not run the length. Through the group’s constant and sometimes aggressive support, this runner pushed himself and finished his leg. He realized how he needed to step up and lengthen the lead rather than try to get away with the bare minimal of his athletic ability. He was very close to giving up and that harmed his emotional state.
Throughout the rest of the race every individual struggled overcoming the physical fatigue that came with each step they had taken. We stayed in the lead, and found out ways how to support our runners and keep them going through their hardest times. Everyone put in a really good effort towards the team. As we raced we saw other teams cheating, but we did not let this affect us and helped us realize how cheaters never prosper when we crossed the finish line first. We finished 8 minutes and 52 seconds before the second place team. For the rest of the day we had a bbq and had a good time hanging out with our teammates.
This race strengthened our relationship by helping us find new ways in which we can support our group members and each other. However, we had a long day but we all felt accomplished and proud of our prior actions. We all enjoyed participating in the race, and would do it again soon.