We are impressed with any program that blends fun with physical fitness. One such program, Girls on the Run, has girls learning teamwork and crossing finish lines all over the country. The Girls on the Run program is so heart-felt and fun-filled that we wanted to share a little bit about this remarkable initiative.
20 Years Young
Girls on the Run “inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experienced-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” Designed for girls between the ages of 8-13 the program aims to teach achievement to young women through running. What once began 20 years ago with 26 girls in Charlotte, North Carolina, the program is now in all 50 states and serves a whopping 185,000 girls a year. Recently the organization has expanded into middle schools with their Heart & Sole program which focuses on the needs of adolescent girls.
How It Works
Local councils are run by adult volunteer coaches and running buddies. Small teams meet together twice a week and learn life skills and other lessons through interactions and running games. The curriculum is taught by certified Girls on the Run coaches. The curriculum is broken down into three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and understanding how we connect with and shape the world.
The act of running is used as a tool to inspire and motivate girls, encourage health and fitness, and acts to build confidence through accomplishment. Each session ends at an area park where a 5k running event is held, giving the girls a goal to work towards and a framework for achieving appropriate closure. Adult running buddies accompany each runner.
Miles of Smiles
The non-competitive 5k running event is where area councils meet and finish their session and these running events can be described as having carnival atmospheres. Hundreds of runners show up with lots of fan-fare, signs of encouragement, music, silly string and balloons. Area businesses are in attendance, styling runners hair, providing healthy snacks and leading fitness warm-up classes. Girls on the Run hosts more than 350 running events each year which makes this the largest 5k running series in the United States.
Where to Learn More
Girls on the Run is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that could not operate without the time of dedicated volunteers and a number of financial and in-kind supporters. If you would like to volunteer or donate to Girls on the Run please click here to find your local council.