Friday, December 5, 2008

Back On My Feet

This Thanksgiving break I enjoyed watching the CNN Heroes awards. These awards celerate unheralded heroes who have achieved exceptional things in their service to others. I was moved by a lot of the different campaigns, and was struck by one in particular- Back On My Feet.

Started by a young woman named Anne Mahlum, BOMF a non-profit organization that promotes self sufficiency for the homeless in Philadelphia by engaging them in running. A seemingly random idea, right?

Before I watched this program, if I had come across the non profit I probably would have wondered how running could possibly help the homeless. But the more I learnt about one woman's campaign to help the homeless move their lives forward, I more amazed I became at how beautifully simple her strategy was, and how very effective it has proved to be. BOMF teaches critical work and life skills by using running as a vehicle to show individuals that they are capable of achieving anything.

Mahlum has said that the campaign arose when she just decided one day to actually stop at the homeless shelter that she ran past every morning, and ask if anyone would like to run with her. Her personal campaign wasn't necessarily strategically planned. But it has developed into an incredibly well oiled organisation- just look at their website! The program doesn't provide food nor shelter, but does something that is perhaps even more valuable- building confidence and making some of society's marginalized feel a part of a community.

This campaign shows peacenicks how important it is to think outside of the box when we seek to create lasting change in the world. Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the most effective.

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