Inspire and Be Inspired: Girls on the Run

Fabulous Girls

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!?!  


Me neither.

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.

What is Girls on the Run?  

 Girls on the Run International’s official message is:

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.

GOTR girls are not catty. We’ve got each others’ backs.

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!!

Coach Mint

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?

Awesome girls after their 5k!

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.

Olympic Class Fun with Girls on the Run!

Love it!  Are you involved with Girls on the Run?  If not, what are you waiting for?

Mindi is a serial marathoner. She is a private practice attorney, wife and mom of two awesome (and super fast) boys, ages 12 and 14. She coaches Girls on the Run and is a big advocate of youth running.

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  1. This is so on my list of things to do when I’m out of the baby\toddler-induced weeds. I’d love to start one around here which borders on a working-class area that is in desperate need of something like this! I love that your boys help you out and I can envision my kids participating too and it’s a great picture!!!

    I also love the photos! They look like stock images. It’s amazing those are snapshots from your group. Really captures the power of what you’re doing. THANKS for all you do for those girls and for inspiring me and hopefully many others to get involved!!!

    1. I think you would LOVE it. Not only is it a great program for the girls, but it gives us adults reminders too to believe in ourselves and go out there and be awesome. Plus, who doesn’t love laughing, running, dancing and being silly with a bunch of 3rd-5th grade girls?!

  2. This is SO awesome!! One of my good friends is involved in this as a coach and also recently ran her first marathon as a fundraiser for GOTR. I would love to get involved but there isn’t one in Tulsa… maybe when I’m a little more settled in Oklahoma I can see if there is interest in starting one!

    1. I really encourage you to check it out. One of my favorite parts of being involved in the program is working with a bunch of awesome women who are trying to make a difference in the lives of young girls. In the meantime, you can always run for SoleMates (GOTR’s fundraising programs) – you can get great perks at some of the bigger races (like the Chicago Marathon) and you will help contribute to local scholarship programs which allow underprivileged girls to participate as well.

  3. A client of mine mentioned that she wanted to join her local chapter. She mentioned how all the girls at school are involved and it seemed like a lot of fun. I helped her family learn more about it and it looks like she will be joining in the fall! I love the idea of the program, it fits in well with many of the issues that my clients face. I wish it was around when I was that age!

    1. I am so glad that you have learned about it and are referring girls to it. I have been trying to work with the schools in my community (both principles and social services workers) to help try to identify girls that could use a self-empowering program such as GOTR. By doing so, I have been able to offer girls scholarships so they can participate in something truly life enriching. Girls go through lots of hard things in life and I am always particularly delighted when we get to work with girls who really could use the extra encouragement, support and just plain positive atmosphere. Think about asking your local group about scholarships – you could be a very valuable resource for them.

  4. GOTR is such a great program! I’ve often wondered if they include kids/girls with disabilities. It can be hard to find fitness activities for kids with mild-moderate physical and cognitive disabilities in this age range (and older!) Many sports-based programs start to transition from skill-focused to competition-focused. Running with GOTR would be great exercise and benefit these girls’ confidence, which could bloom in such a supportive environment. I keep meaning to look into this with GOTR…

    1. Absolutely. All girls are welcome. I have had girls in my group with minor developmental and physical disabilities and the program was really wonderful for them. Definitely look into this. Also feel free to message me any time for more info.

  5. Girls on the Run is so much fun! I have run two marathons for them as a fundraiser (one all the way back when fundraisers were part of Team Tiara) and have volunteered on and off with the local chapter in various ways as my schedule allows. I have been lucky enough to spend two seasons as an assistant coach, and it’s so amazing to see the way the girls change over the course of the season. I definitely agree with your comment upthread about benefiting the adults, too!