- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A new Minneapolis-based running club aims to improve the lives of homeless shelter residents through exercise.

Mile in My Shoes began in June as a way to get unlikely runners out on the pavement, Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1tbp5n2 ) reported. The club takes a page from existing efforts in New York City and Philadelphia, where other groups are also trying to bring basic exercise practices to homeless people.

Mile in My Shoes was launched by longtime runner Mishka Vertin and her boyfriend, Mike Jurasits, both of whom lead the runs in the Twin Cities. They hope to eventually turn the running club into a nonprofit organization.

“If anybody needs an opportunity to be able to have a stress reliever, to be able to have a better outlook in the morning, to have a community of people supporting them, around them being positive, that would be someone who finds themselves waking up in a homeless shelter,” Vertin said.

The group meets with residents of the Higher Ground shelter twice a week.

Mile in My Shoes is an unofficial affiliate of Catholic Charities and also receives help from Mill City Running, where Vertin works when she’s not serving as a social worker in St. Paul. The local running shop sells Mile in My Shoes T-shirts and donates shoes to members of the club.

“Especially, for the clients here, it’s a good part of normalcy and everyday life,” said Amanda Harmon, a Higher Ground case manager who participates in the runs. “Being with everyday people, it’s really good for mental health. Being positive, feeling good about life - a reason to get up.”

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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