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NYer Of The Week: Jackie Astrof Combines Running And Reading For Young New Yorkers

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How do you encourage kids to be healthy and read? This week's New Yorker is providing much-needed support for a program that does both those things in one by getting kids to run for books. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following report.

For most, running and reading might seem an unlikely pairing, but for a group of schoolchildren and the Astrof family, the two make a winning team.

After all, it was running that led Jackie and her family to the New York Road Runners' Miles for Books program.

"I actually get my best ideas while I'm running," Astrof says. "I feel like it's an ability for me to clear my head and come up with creative thoughts."

The program is a way for young runners to earn free books for their school by running extra miles during their physical education classes.

"I thought, 'What a great way to match both setting goals while you're running, and also, being able to match that with doing something else which is important for kids to do, which is to start a love of reading,'" Astrof says.

To help keep the program "running," Jackie and her family decided to donate tens of thousands of dollars to help distribute some 60,000 books to students and their schools.

"I like doing the Mighty Milers because I love running and I like to read for extra books," says Rahim Francis, a student at P.S. 315. "Running is a reward, and reading is a reward, too."

"A lot of our students might not be able to afford books on their own," says Beth Posner, a physical education teacher. "Because of the generosity, the children each have, even if it's one book, they have a book, they have gotten books to take home and to keep and for their classrooms."

Jackie's love of running, reading and giving back is being passed on not only to the kids in the program, but to her own children as well. Her two sons save up loose change every year to donate, and they run races to fundraise for the cause.

"It felt like there's something new in life than just walking," said Zachary Astrof, Jackie's son. "It makes me feel happy because, like, I have a goal to achieve, and when I achieve it by running for it, I really feel proud inside."

So, for giving schools and students a smart and healthy start, Jackie Einstein Astrof is our New Yorker of the Week.

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