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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Teens Stage ‘Walkathons’ To Help Nation’s Anti-Poverty Programs

    What’s the teenagers new “”bag?”” Foot power. But it’s strictly for hunger.

                According to Leonard Wolf, executive director of the American Freedom from Hunger Foundation, and former director of the U.S. Food for Peace program in Brazil, 150,000 teenagers in 35 communities from Washington, D.C to Los Angeles, are turning-on to  30-mile marathon hikes to aid in the fight against poverty.

                They have raised nearly $1 million to benefit foreign and domestic anti-poverty projects, ranging from nutritional help for the Navajo Indians to immunization of South Korean farm animals.

                WHILE SOME under- 30’s are alienated in the drug culture, committed young people are turning their sole power into dollars to feed the under-privileged.

                “” There are still some wonderful kids in this country,”” says Wolf, in the September Good Housekeeping. “” They have a purity of concern that’s not all cluttered up with the attitude ‘What’s in it for me?'””

                This is how the walkathons work: “”The kids recruit sponsors who pay them from a few cents to several dollars for every mile they hike over a charted course. Their involvement helps them to make a positive gesture to a world in which they often feel only frustration,”” says Leonard Wolf, who reports that the method has been used successfully in Canada and England.

                WOLF, a one-time Iowa congressman, says “”Blisters, bruises and strained muscles are cheerfully accepted as badges of honor. There’s enough challenge and offbeat adventure in the walks to attract vast hordes of teenagers to the project. Its aim is to find solutions to the problems of malnutrition. We’re not just giving hand-outs.””

                “” The canvassing of neighbors, businessmen and relatives as sponsors, the hoopia and the peaceful marchers themselves focus the attention of uniformed adults on the pressing problems of hunger,”” Wolf points out.

                Some teenagers have volunteered under heroic conditions, Wolf says. In San Diego, a blind student went the full distance aided by the high school track star.

                IN EUGENE, Oregon, a girl went 224 miles in the rain in a wheelchair. In Duluth, Minnesota, thousands of young people trudged through snow and in Palm Springs, they trekked through the desert heat.

                Eighteen-year-old Chuck Steinbach, co-ordinator of the recent Villa Park, Illinois walk and t his summer a full-time worker for the American Freedom from Hunger Foundation recalls, “” In an area where people get into their cars to go across the street to the mailbox, 1800 kids crossed the finish line of a 30-mile course.””

                One teenager collapsed as she did so, sobbing, “” I made it! I made it!”” The result was $60,000 collected to combat poverty for two beneficiaries ­­–  Illinois’ DuPage Cpunty’s Project Hope, an organization geared to rehabilitate homes for welfare mothers and a Biafra center which is establishing a weaving industry for displaced persons.

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