Run Beyond Project helping kids to set goals and develop resilience

Riley Nowland, Jacob Monaghan, Chris Barnes, Paige Jackson, Michelle Versluys, Fiona Holloway, Abbie Parkes, Tyler Sutton, Ryley Smith (absent from group photo are Jesse McMahon and mentor Maree Curnuck).


NAMBUCCA Heads High School (NHHS) has a team of dedicated teachers coaching and assisting students in the Run Beyond Project.

The Run Beyond Project, a registered charity, ‘Uses running as a medium to help students facing adversity; learn goal setting, commitment, resilience and to feel a sense of belonging’.

The founder of the project, Mr David Crinti, began the project when he was working as part of the Refugee Transition Program.

This program focused on the transitioning of refugee students into the high school environment.

Mr Crinti convinced five of his Chester Hill High School students with refugee backgrounds to stretch themselves beyond what they thought was possible and train for a half-marathon.

This has become a program that is used by committed teachers throughout Australia to help students develop skills in their lives that will help them excel, utilising what they gain beyond running.

Teachers involved in the project from Nambucca Heads High School, Michelle Versluys, Chris Barnes and Abbie Parkes, train with the students to help them achieve their goals.

Ms Versluys explains that the program focuses on “resilience, commitment and goal setting”.

“The idea is they are embedded in the program to do with running but then the kids take those with them through life, and apply them to school, relationships and everything in life.

“They learn these core values.

“They can have great conversations with us now around those.”

Students and teachers complete half an hour of theory each week before they set off on their group run.

There is criteria set to identify those students that would most benefit from the program, and they are then invited to attend.

According to Ms Versluys other students are still welcome to become involved, perhaps in a mentoring role.

Currently there are two students, Riley Nowland (Year 12) and Ryley Smith (Year 9), previously involved in the project, who act as mentors for the other runners.

Community member Karlie Swanson, a local elite runner, is also a mentor in the program.

News Of The Area asked mentor Riley Nowland, who recently completed Year 12, how the program has helped him.

Riley said, “I have been running for quite awhile now, and it definitely helps me to feel good.

“My running times have improved since I was invited into the program.”

Students incur no cost, and are provided with a t-shirt, vest, new shoes and a buff.

2021 is the third year that NHHS has run the project, and the teachers and students involved are all enthusiastic and passionate about its success.

The finale for 2021 will be a 8 km run around the Coffs Creek Loop with Orara High School who have started the Project in 2021.

The Run Beyond Project can only run through fundraising and donations, and a major fundraising drive is held in December each year.

Go to to find out more.

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