Peace Runners 773 Building a Running Community in Garfield Park
Peace Runners 773 is out and about in Garfield Park and they want the whole community to come out and get active! They have been a valuable partner to Garfield Park Community Council events such as the Breast Cancer Event and the Holiday Brunch, but they host many of their own events and programs in the neighborhood as well. Peace Runners 773 is on a mission to bring together and inspire the community of Garfield Park through social, physical, and mental health and wellness. “I feel that it is very special when people can come to Garfield Park and say that it is a runnable/walkable community, and Peace Runners 773 has been the bridge to that” founder Jackie Hoffman says.
Hoffman grew up in Garfield Park, spending his free time playing basketball in the Gold Dome. In 2020 he was learning about Juneteenth when he had the idea to get people together to celebrate the holiday and get outdoors. He put the word out on Facebook, and upwards of twenty people came out for a run around the neighborhood; from there they realized they wanted to run not only in their community but with their community. Now a 501(c)3 non-profit, Peace Runners 773 has grown from that initial run to housing several programs such as a run club, community workouts, youth mentorship, and a couch to 5k program. All ages and fitness levels are welcome to join, and their programs are free for everyone.
One of Hoffman’s proudest efforts with Peace Runners 773 is the “Young at Heart”, who are senior citizen members of the group. Acknowledging problems of health inequity and a life expectancy of only 69 years in the neighborhood, Hoffman is happy that many of these Young at Heart members are 69 or older. He loves to keep them motivated and moving and see them hold themselves accountable to staying active. “It’s special because Peace Runners 773 is your everything. It's the run club, it's the senior citizens and young at heart, it’s the youth mentorship, it’s everything in one” Hoffman says. Peace Runners 773 prides itself on the diverse range of ages, gender, and ability of members—people bring their parents, meet their neighbors, and get a real sense of village when they come to community workouts.
Hoffman invites the whole community to join the weekly Saturday Community Workouts. The group run starts at 9:30 AM in front of the Gold Dome, and then around 10 AM they start the strength and cardio workout in the gym. At the end of the workout, they incorporate mental health practice by gathering in a circle and debriefing on the workout or just life at the moment. Hoffman sees it as a fun thing to do in Garfield Park where the community can meet great people, socialize, physically get in shape, mentally relax, have peace, chill with family, and hang out with people after the workouts.