CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A local nonprofit is moving its free running program for kids in kindergarten through eighth grade online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Run Your City, part of Run Charlottesville, was founded by two members of the University of Virginia cross country and track and field team in the summer of 2018.

Mary Blankemeier, the founder of Run Your City, said the purpose of the program is to introduce kids to running while helping them make connections in the community.

"Every kid, regardless of socio-economic background or ability level, should have an opportunity to be introduced to sports and particularly running," she said. "It's also a unique sport like you don't need much. A pair of running shoes goes a long way."

Blankemeier says the program is also about forming community between kids and local athletes.

"We've done it in person these six week seasons alternating between practices and race days where kids are paired up with Division I athletes and UVA students and go through exercises," she said.

This year, the exercises for the program will be moved online due to COVID-19.

Christian Jenkins, a community outreach coordinator for Run Your City, said they will still aim toward the goals by forming small teams. Each team will consist of one to two UVA students leading up to 10 kids.

"We'll send out different challenges, workouts and race days stuff like that so kids can really participate," Jenkins said. "Every time they do a workout or every time or run, we'll have them send pictures or images so we can still keep that same team feel so you can see what your teammates are doing."

Even though the program is moving online, Blankemeier hopes this will show the kids how they can work together and learn a new sport even if they're miles apart.

"It just speaks to a greater sense of community and also resilience," she said.

The virtual season will run from Feb. 7 through March 14. To learn more about this program, click here.