Ever heard of Girls on the Run? It both is—and isn’t—what it sounds like. Yes, these girls do run, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Girls on the Run is an organization designed to build confidence in young girls—no running away from the challenges of girlhood. The girls run to demonstrate the inner strength they’ve built through the program. They run as a tangible reminder of what’s possible, and what they can achieve.
The Girls on the Run program lasts 12 weeks, culminating in the big 5K run that gives the organization its name. Each week, with the help of volunteer mentors and coaches, girls participate in lessons that address the social, societal and mental pressures of being a girl in today’s world. The curriculum helps girls gain a sense of self, and also teaches important life skills such as teamwork and healthy relationship-building. (And that’s just for the 3rd to 5th graders.)
And what about middle school girls? Yep, there’s a program designed just for the junior high experience, too. Called Girls on Track, the curriculum for 6th to 8th graders is similarly focused on self-worth and confidence, but also delves into more mature issues like eating disorders, alcohol use and bullying.
Established in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1996, Girls on the Run has enlisted the mentorship of over 55,000 volunteers and serves over 130,000 girls across North America. Just in 2012, Girls on the Run hosted 253 end-of-program 5K events. That’s a lot of running, a lot of smiles and a lot of empowerment.
Think you’d like to get involved? Here’s how!
Start a Council. This might require the help of some adults, but individuals can start a “council” (chapter) of Girls on the Run wherever one is needed. Be sure to check if there’s already one in your area first, but if not, you might be able to fill a major need!
Join the Fan Club! If you have a connection to Girls on the Run (either you’ve participated, or know someone who has), you can join the fan club and spread the word about the positive effects of the program.
Cheer the girls on at a 5K. If there’s a Girls on the Run council in your area, there’s going to be a 5K at some point! This non-competitive event is the culmination of the program, and a majorly important moment for these girls. So be there to cheer them on!
Want to see Girls on the Run in action? Check out this video!
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