On Tuesday, June 18, Binghamton University held its first-ever Juneteenth 5K Run, Walk and Roll a day before the federal holiday. The event was free and accessible to everyone on campus and in the greater Binghamton community.

Tom St. John, the director of Binghamton Campus Recreation, said the celebration was a collaborative effort among the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Healthy Campus Initiative, and Campus Recreation. Ada Robinson-Perez, the executive director of the Office of Equity and Access, first proposed the idea to Kimberly Peabody, the director of the Healthy Campus Initiative and other campus partners.

Featured along with the 5K was a presentation sharing interesting facts and educational information about Juneteenth for all participants. Speakers also took the stage at the event to discuss the history of the holiday.

“Campus Recreation is a collaborative campus partner, and we were more than happy to support the important message the university’s inaugural Juneteenth 5K sent,” said St. John. “Also, we’re always looking for ways we can encourage and support healthy choices and experience all the great benefits associated with them. The 1.3-mile loop around Binghamton’s beautiful main campus provides an ideal setting for physical activity.”

5K Details

Planning for the event first began back in April. Thanks to months of preparation, a total of 128 participants signed up for the 5K with the first 100 receiving a commemorative T-shirt. Laura Cichostepski, the assistant director, Marketing, said faculty and staff from the Geography department even created their own T-shirt design for the event.

Check-in began at 11 a.m. in Binghamton’s Old Union Hall. Healthy snacks and infused water were available, and Cichostepski said Campus Recreation gave away cooling towels to all participants. Victor Ramirez, the program coordinator of Fitness and Wellness, led the group in some pre-event warmup exercises indoors. This way, all participants, regardless of fitness level or experience, would be better prepared for the activity.

The 5K began at noon with markers and people helping runners navigate the course. Other volunteers stood at various sections to cheer on and encourage participants.

“We even had someone riding around in an electric cart with water for participants, if needed,” said Cichostepski. “It was a great way to build community, encourage physical activity and, most importantly, reflect on Juneteenth and celebrate its historical significance.”

Peabody described the entire event as a celebratory atmosphere filled with smiles, excitement and encouragement. Another reason for the day’s success is participants had the option to complete any part of the route.

Collaboration and Event Creation Tips

The Juneteenth recognition wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. St. John said that specific collaboration plays an important role in fostering a vibrant, inclusive and supportive campus environment.

“At Campus Recreation, we strive to enhance inclusivity and increase participation in our programming, all with the overarching goal of supporting well-being,” said St. John. “Partnering with the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion helps us do that.”

Partnering with another department helped create a strong inaugural event which Binghamton Campus Recreation wants to see grow for years to come. If your department is brainstorming on having its own unique, annual activity, Cichostepski said to first start with your “why.” That will flow into your how and what, along with the creation of the event. She said this is because it can be easy to get lost in all the logistics. So, developing your purpose is key for success.

“Identify campus partners early in the planning stages so you can share ideas, get feedback and plan outreach strategies,” said Cichostepski. “We want our campus partners to feel valued and involved. Including them early in the planning stages helps us do this.”

By following this example set by Binghamton, your campus can create events and activities that make a significant impact on the lives of students when everyone feels embraced and valued.

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