At the first of December, I had the opportunity to participate in the 7th Annual Central Kentucky Girls On The Run 5K run. Today I want to share why I willingly got up to run in 30 degree weather and why I feel every girl and women could benefit from this program.
Girls on The Run is an international program that combines training for a 5k with healthy living educational lessons. Over 24 lessons (typically two per week), girls in 3rd – 8th grades meet with coaches and assistant coaches after school where there is a lesson revolving around self esteem, life skills and relationship building. This lesson also integrates running and physical activity of stretching and caring for the body. The goal is to provide training for the run but also build self confidence in every area of a girl’s’ life.
At the completion of the lessons, everyone celebrates in completing a 5K.
I have wanted to volunteer with Girls On The Run since the beginning in Central Kentucky but due to my work schedule, I could not participate as a coach or assistant coach. Coaches and and assistant coaches are volunteers who meet with the participants after school two days per week and facilitate the various lessons along with teaching stretching and physical exercises before practice laps that eventually lead up to a 5K.
After my friend Brandy became a coach for her elementary school this year, I became more familiar with the specfic lessons. These lessons included how to be a friend, standing up for yourself, respecting diversity and how to handle conflict.
Schools across Central Kentucky participate in the program and gathered at Keeneland Race Course on December 3rd, to run the 5k. It was simply amazing to see such a large number of young girls, coaches, running buddies, and family members gather in 30 degree temperatures. Before the race it was a fun party atmosphere with face painting, choices of spray in colors for hair and great music.
I participated as a running buddy and ran (sometimes walked) with a student on my friend’s team. It was such a rewarding experience to run along with her and discuss what she has learned over the past weeks as well as doing a little teaching. (My favorite question was how far was a 10k. It took her a few minutes when I asked her how much it would be if we doubled the 5k distance. Kilometers aren’t easy!) I was also able to explain to her different aspects of the race such as why the course changed at one point, and helped her when she became too hot with her sweatshirt.
I believe she summed up what she had learned this semester when she made the statement, “Just because we are walking, doesn’t mean we are stopping.” Something that each of us may need to remember as we move throughout our daily lives.
Girls On The Run allows girls to develop confidence and to recognize they have the ability to accomplish many things. Completing a 5k is an accomplishment for anyone and completing one as an elementary student establishes the foundation for many things in the future.
Throughout the race, family members and volunteers stood and cheered with signs of encouragement. Another example of how important it is to support each other.
Research shows that girls who participate in the program have higher self esteem, improved eating habits and body image along with an increased commitment to physical activity. There is a $150 participation fee that goes towards an extensive lesson curriculum, extensive coach training, healthy snacks at each practice, and race registration. Scholarships are available for those who are unable to pay the full fee and many schools have full teams of girls utilizing scholarships.
This is an organization that I encourage every women to volunteer and support in some form.
Opportunities include being a coach/assistant coach, running buddy, committee member, cheer volunteer or sponsor.
A new season of Girls on the Run will begin in the Spring. I certainly plan to participate as a runny buddy again in May. If you are in the Central Kentucky area, please consider becoming involved in this fantastic organization. To find a Girls on the Run outside of Central Kentucky, visit the national site for one in your local area.
Will you join me in supporting Girls On The Run?