Education Prof Creates Running Wellness Program for Youth

photo of runners

Courtesy Photo
Nathalia Sanchez, left, and Yamel Ruelas of Washington Middle School in Albuquerque run with their mentor Gloria Larios as part of the  Running 505 program.

Las Vegas, N.M. – A Highlands University education professor created Running 505, a youth program that promotes health and emotional wellness through the joy of running.

Melani Buchanan Farmer, who teaches in the School of Education at Highlands’ Rio Rancho Center, said the overall goal of Running 505 is promoting long-term wellness for youth in 5th through 8th grade.

“Middle school is often a time of stormy weather where kids are trying to find the balance between who they are as an individual and also make connections with people in their life,” Buchanan Farmer said. “With Running 505, I wanted to incorporate the social and emotional component along with physical fitness. Running is easy for kids because they can just step outside and do it.”

Since she established the nonprofit Running 505 in 2013, it has grown from its base at Washington Middle School to four other Albuquerque Public Schools.

Once a week, approximately 50 students in Running 505 meet after school with adult mentors, starting with a wellness lesson and then heading out for a group run with the mentors.

“We talk abut how running can help us overcome challenges such as stress about schoolwork and developing relationships. The students tell us that Running 505 is a place where they can take a break from the struggles of their lives and just have fun,” Buchanan Farmer said.

Throughout the year, Running 505 enters the young runners into fun runs in Albuquerque. They’ll run next March 26 in the 5K Safari Run.

Buchanan Farmer said an exciting new initiative for Running 505 is involving parents in fitness.

“We’re including parents through a Sunday afternoon session with their children at Cantina Crossfit. It’s great that this Albuquerque gym opened its doors free of charge for Running 505. They share our vision of long-term wellness for youth,” Buchanan Farmer said.

The Albuquerque native taught in Albuquerque Public Schools from 1999-2011.

“As an educator, I’ve always incorporated some form of wellness into my curriculum with my school-age students,” Buchanan Farmer said.

She earned a Ph.D. in transformative studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco with a concentration in youth wellness and education. She also holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Mexico.

Buchanan Farmer joined the Highlands University faculty fall semester 2016. She teaches graduate-level curriculum and instruction courses.

She tells her education students at Highlands University to consider the whole child when teaching.

“In addition to teaching academic content, it’s important that we also have a connection to each student’s social and emotional development through observation, conversation and integrating activities like journaling into the curriculum,” Buchanan Farmer said.

Those interested in learning more about Running 505 can visit it online at