Atascadero Greyhound and Lighthouse Foundation strive to develop wholesome kids

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Greyhound Foundation (AGF) and Lighthouse Foundation (LF) hosted their annual All-Comers Track & Field meet at the Atascadero High School Track on Wednesdays throughout July. 

The meets were welcome to all ages from 4 to 90-years-old; competitors participated in the Discus Throw, Pole Vault, Shot Put, Long Jump, High Jump, Turbo Javelin, 100/110m High Hurdles, 4X100m Relay, Kids (6 and under) little hurdles, 400m, 1500m/Mile, 100m, 800m, 200m, and 3000m.

Atascadero High School Choir director Carrie Jones opened up the last nights’ event on Jul. 28, with the singing of the National Anthem. 

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

According to AGF Executive Director Donn Clickard, the number of families who attended was the most of any year to date. Clickard also stated that there was a significant jump in enthusiasm due to the cancelation of several events over the past year and a half because of the COVID-19 restrictions. 

“The energy level is through the roof, and our numbers reflect it too!” said Rolfe Nelson, AGF Treasurer, and Board member.

Like so many other events, the All-Comers Track & Field meet was canceled last year in response to COVID-19 concerns.

“I think it was the right thing to do for the safety of our community,” said Robyn Schmidt, from the Board of Directors for Atascadero All Comers Track Meets. “I know it was sad for many families because it is such a favorite summer activity for the youth. But, I knew we would be back and would all be even more joyful being able to be there to enjoy this community event.”

“There was a void in not having this,” Clickard said, “because this is one of the best events we do. We just love this.”

“We started the Greyhound Foundation to build this track in 1995,” said Clickard. “In 2011, we kind of morphed from an athletic support group into a drug prevention group. So the Greyhound Foundation and Lighthouse are about addiction awareness, prevention, intervention, and education for our adolescent population.”

“And that’s any kind of addiction,” added Nelson. “Phone addiction, gaming addiction, alcohol addiction…”

“…yes, any kind of addiction,” Clickard agreed. “We’re also dealing with depression and anxiety in children, too, at the Wellness Center at the High School and Middle School.”

As children were confined to their homes to avoid the possibility of illness, all indicators have shown a steep rise in mental illness in children. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the proportion of mental health–related emergency department visits among adolescents aged 12–17 years increased 31 percent compared to 2019. The most significant increase was seen in teenage girls. During Feb. 21 through Mar. 20, the suspected suicide attempt emergency department visits were 50.6 percent higher among girls aged 12 to 17 years than during the same period in 2019. These are precisely the issues that canceled events like the All-Comers Track & Field Meets were intended to address.

“I am a firm believer that physical activity is such an important factor in good mental health. It doesn’t matter how good we are. Physical activity changes us physically, emotionally, and physiologically,” said Schmidt. “It just matters that we are active. Through sports and physical activity, we learn discipline, teamwork, following guidelines, good health and fitness, overcoming challenges, persevering, pushing your limits, setting goals, and achieving them. And from these attributes, we gain confidence in ourselves, improve our self-value, and are better at all we do.”

“The Lighthouse Program is pretty all-encompassing,” said Clickard, “so this event is all about seeing families together, developing wholesome kids, and it’s fun.”

For more information on The All-Comers Track & Field Meets, visit atascaderogreyhoundfoundation.org/all-comers.html.