Dreamfar High School Marathon (DHSM), a non-profit organization, was launched in 2008 by special education teacher Jamie Chaloff at Newton South High School in an effort to aid students struggling in high school, providing them the opportunity to succeed through marathon training. Dreamfar students are helped by regular physical activity and the support of a mentoring relationship, learning the importance of dedication, commitment, and teamwork while working toward the completion of a marathon. The program teaches students to tackle obstacles using the skills learned through marathon training.
DHSM strives to challenge high school students to reach their full potential —academically, physically, socially, and emotionally — through a mentor-supported marathon-training program. This mission is accomplished by addressing issues that hinder students’ success and enjoyment in high school. Dreamfar seeks to help each student develop a sense of self-worth and accomplishment, make connections with peers and adults in school and in the community, learn skills valuable to coping with challenges in high school and beyond, and develop a physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy lifestyle.
In 2011, DHSM was introduced to marathoner Christine Baker, who was raising money for the 26.2 Foundation while training on her own to run the Boston Marathon. Baker was introduced to DHSM by her cousin, a mentor for the program. Baker trained with Dreamfar students each Saturday up until the Boston Marathon, which she successfully completed.
Upon her completion of Boston, Baker asked DHSM what she could do to support the students as they tackled their race, the Cox Providence Marathon. DHSM asked Chris to run side by side with a student as far as she was able. Ultimately, she ran the entire Cox Providence Marathon – two marathons in three weeks.
Through Baker, Dreamfar was introduced to the 26.2 Foundation. DHSM and the 26.2 Foundation formed their own relationship, which has benefitted DHSM in several ways. The 26.2 Foundation, understanding the importance of team unity and uniforms, outfitted each student with bright orange fleeces, something DHSM had been hoping for. DHSM was also invited to Celebrating 4 Decades of Women Running Boston, an event held in Hopkinton in honor of women marathoners throughout history.
DHSM, which has now trained over eighty students for half and full marathons, utilizes marathoning as a means of teaching its students the importance of perseverance when faced with challenges and the pursuit of healthy lifestyles. 100% of DHSM’s seniors have graduated from high school, 95% of whom went on to attend college. Since its introduction to Newton South in 2008, DHSM has expanded to six Massachusetts schools in Brookline, Sharon, and Boston.