A Boulder mom and budding entrepreneur makes it possible for parents to enjoy running races and triathlons by providing on-site child care at races for the first time.
When runners and triathletes have kids, how can they keep up with racing when it’s difficult to juggle child care? Now parents can bring their children along with them and drop them off conveniently on site with PRKids. The kids are entertained at the PRKids mini-camp with plenty of engaging games and activities, and parents have peace of mind that their children are in good hands. Amazingly, it’s the first time this service has been offered in Colorado – or anywhere in the nation.
Says Owner, “Chief Entertainment Officer,” and avid runner Michelle Kalinski, she never expected to start a business like this. With a background in international development and education reform at the World Bank, she had considered starting an independent business in that sector, but a different part of her life became the impetus for her entrepreneurialism.
As a long-time runner who has participated in seven full marathons and numerous half marathons, 10k and 5k races, with a couple of triathlons along the way, it was an adjustment for Kalinski to find time to race after her children were born. She conceived PRKids “out of necessity” after experiencing her own struggles to find child care for her two children.
She and her husband compromised by taking turns racing so one parent could stay with the kids, but soon found it frustrating when they wanted to participate in the same races. It was also not easy to find a babysitter at 6:00 am on a Sunday morning. And when sitters canceled last minute, they lost their registration fees.
Kalinski realized there was an immediate, local need for a service like this. She says, “I wanted to find a way to help the Colorado community of parents who want to stay fit but also spend time with their children and model a healthy, active lifestyle for them as well as have their kids see people reach their goals.”
Off and Running
It took just about one year from the time she started research into registering her company to the launch of PRKids, and now, with a great deal of help from the state, health, education, and fire departments, her business is in full swing.
It’s a huge accomplishment given the challenges that Kalinski faced opening her business, the first of its kind. Says Kalinski, “There were no examples of businesses that were doing the same thing. It was the first time it’s been done the way I was endeavoring to do this. Even other states did not have models for me.”
At the recent Prairie Dog “Spring Fling” 5K/10K/half marathon in Arvada, the bright and welcoming PRKids tent was abuzz with children ages five to 12 who were blowing balloons and making crafts under the enthusiastic guidance of Kalinski and two experienced staff members.
This race marks the ninth event in which PRKids has participated, and Kalinski says as of now PRKids will be joining about 20 more running races and triathlons this year.
A testament to Kalinski’s persistence and success is that PRKids will be offering child care at Boulder’s world-renowned BolderBOULDER race, which attracts more than 50,000 participants and over 70,000 spectators from across the world on Memorial Day, May 30.
PRKids will be located in a conference room at the Boulder Marriott Hotel between the start and finish lines, and will have capacity for 150 children ages three to 12. Kalinski adds, “What’s great about the BolderBOULDER timing is that parents can run an early wave at their preferred pace while leaving their children with PRKids, then pick up their children with enough time for the whole family to walk or jog together in a later wave.”
For Kalinski, designing fresh lesson plans weekly for her camps at various races, and spending time with children at each event, are what she enjoys most in her work. She loves getting kids’ input for the games and activities of the day, and she often leads them in crafts that they can take home to their parents.
“For example, the Pumpkin Pie Race in Denver was a lot of fun,” Kalinski says. “The kids made turkey crafts and used pumpkin-shaped marshmallows with toothpicks to build structures. We all had a great time.”
In addition to a fun environment, safety is a top priority. All staff are carefully screened and background checked as well as CPR/First Aid trained, and the tent is located near the race medical team. When weather conditions are too severe for even a heated tent, the operation moves indoors when possible.
Kalinski remarks, “I feel strongly about offering entertaining, educational activities in safe environment because that is what I’d want for my kids.”
Answers to your questions: http://www.prkidsusa.com/faqs.html
BolderBoulder registration: http://www.prkidsusa.com/bolderboulder-info.html
Upcoming Races: http://www.prkidsusa.com/events.html