Changing Lives Through Girls on the Run


I am nearing the end of my first coaching season with Girls on the Run.

Some of you might be wondering….what is Girls on the Run?

“Girls on the Run is a North American non-profit program that works to encourage pre-teen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games, culminating in a celebratory 5k race.”

We meet twice a week for 10-12 weeks, 75 minutes each time. Lessons are…..

“Designed to allow every girl to recognize her inner strength…..”

“…..curriculum inspires girls to define their lives on their own terms.”

Make new friends, build confidence, and celebrate what makes them unique.

“…..develop important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences.”

“Physical activity is woven into our program to inspire an appreciation of fitness and to build habits that lead to a lifetime of health.”

Each practice, we spend the first 20-30 minutes getting our 3rd-5th grade girls in the right frame of mind for the lesson that day, playing games, and doing warm-up activities that tie into the *lesson*.

And then they run.  But during the run, they are still tying the lesson in.

We have covered some really important topics, like positive and negative self-talk, handling emotions, healthy habits, gratitude and appreciation, what is real beauty and who defines it, and cooperation.

We have taught them strategies to deal with peer pressure, gossiping and bullying.

As a team, they have gone through the process of developing a community service project -from brainstorming groups of people to help (and narrowing it down), to actual ideas of assisting those groups (and narrowing it down), to collectively choosing as a group which project they wanted to execute.

Last night, they did a practice 5k in preparation of their season-ending 5k.  It was 84 degrees (that is hot for running!) and so humid.  The sun kept peeking in and out of the clouds.   The girls are accustomed to running on an indoor track, so I knew the heat could be an issue.  After the first few laps, they were begging for the gray clouds to open up and dump rain on them (it never did).  However, not a single girl complained.  Not a single girl stopped.  They helped each other, encouraging one another -lap after lap after lap.  Those who finished first stayed and cheered for everyone else. They cheered every single teammate in to their finishes.

I have loved watching these 7 girls grow and open up and have their *light bulb* moments.  I have loved watching them make new friends and include one another.  Most of them knew no one on the team when they started.

It has been an eye-opening experience for me and I love it. Not because of the running….that is just a by-product.  But because these girls are learning how awesomely unique they are. They are acquiring tools to help them as they navigate tween-dom and junior high school.

Every single parent of every single girl on our team has told me how much their daughter loves coming to the Girls on the Run practices.  They don’t miss practice unless they are sick.  One parent told me tonight that out of all the activities his daughter has ever done, Girls on the Run has been her favorite.

Both the parents and the girls have asked if our host site will be offering this program in the Fall.

I think you and I both know the answer to that.

I kind of wish they had a program like this for adult women, don’t you?  I could certainly use a reminder/refresher/update on positive self talk, gratitude and appreciation, dealing with difficult situations, believing in myself, standing up for myself, and understanding what is real beauty.

Would you sign up for a program like that?  Would you register your daughter for a program like that?

Girls on the Run.

P.S. They have another program targeted towards 6th-8th graders called Girls on Track as well as a new program called Heart and Sole.

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