This post is all about girls! Remember when you were in 3rd grade though 5th grade? You were running 5ks, feeling inspired by awesome, energetic women who stepped up to mentor you, right? You received timely tips on how to navigate the complexities of peer pressure, gossiping, bullying, and the stress of growing up? You were celebrated for being all around aWeSoMe!?!
But I wish I had because, man, that is a hard age. Preceding a much, much harder age. The foundation of a strong girl/woman is such an important, yet difficult thing.
Thanks to Molly Barker of Charlotte, North Carolina, there is a movement afoot to promote a strong / solid foundation for every girl / woman. And I am lucky enough to be chin deep in it here in my community. That movement, is Girls on the Run.
We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.
Girls on the Run is a transformational learning program for 8 to 13 year-old girls. We teach life skills through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running games. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5k running event. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.
From its inception and still today, it is a very grass roots program. Molly Barker started it 16 years ago. Since then, she and her team have spread the word of girl power. They continually develop and improve a self-confidence and awareness-improving curriculum. As they have emerged from a tiny group to literally tens of thousands (if not now hundreds of thousands) of girls each season. They have engaged powerhouse sponsors such as Johnson Health Tech, Garmin, Goody, Secret and one of my favorite retailers – Athleta – to name just a few – to make this movement happen. Over the years as the program has grown, Molly has met with the President and first lady of the United States and worked hard (with her awesome staff) to get the word out about what is going on in our communities. And what is going on? Well, each community brings the program to fruition locally through highly dedicated, fabulous women who want to make the program grow and thrive in their communities. It takes a lot of volunteers, commitment, and passion for the idea of empowering our next generation of girls.
Each Girls on the Run team consists of 8-17 girls in 3rd through 5th grade who meet twice a week for ten weeks to train for a 5k and to talk about tough issues they face or may face soon. Last season, my fabulous team spent a lot of time:
• getting to know each other
• focusing on thinking positive
• learning to make healthy choices (physically and mentally)
• having gratitude for all of the wonderful things in our lives
• learning to slow down, relax and center our minds
• talking about being positive role models
• cooperating with one another
• respecting one another
• learning about the importance of having a positive body image
• talking about the importance of communicating and standing up for ourselves
• taking a stand against peer pressure, bullying and gossiping
• choosing friends who support us and treat us well
• giving back to our community
• understanding the importance of helping each other and our community at large
• exploring media and how to be smart consumers of the advertising and messages we take in
• AND having lots of fun along the way!!
We are a small group that cheers each other on no matter if you are the fastest or slowest girl. Because every girl has amazing talents. We share our talents and interests, celebrate them, and encourage each other to go out there and be our best. Each season is filled with extraordinary girls. Some girls can sing, some dance, some run, some swim, some are scholars, some can play the cello, some can just make you laugh and warm your heart. Many are a combination. Every season is different and wonderful. We are so lucky and blessed to know and support one another. I guarantee you’ll hear a lot more from me about my personal experiences with the program. This, is Girls on the Run 101.
Oh, and did I mention these fabulous young women run at least 2 5ks during the 10 week season?
It is thrilling to me not only to be involved, but to watch as more and more catch on that this is a valuable, wonderful thing for our girls. My favorite case-in-chief – Kara Goucher. This soon-to-be olympic star has recently become involved as well.
Love it! Are you involved with Girls on the Run? If not, what are you waiting for?