Last year, I started volunteering for an organization called Girls on the Run. It is a running club for girls in grades 3-5 and has a presence throughout the country. Our local chapter has clubs in dozens of schools around the Twin Cities area. I’m not writing this post on behalf of them and I don’t speak for their organization, but I wanted to share my experience with you all because it has made such an impact on my life!
I have coached teams of girls the last 2 years. Although it’s a big commitment that some days is stressful to add into my day, its worth it. What I love about the program is that it’s not JUST about running, and the program is careful to coach girls in a way that isn’t only results based. The goal is to get girls moving, without being competitive, or making girls feel that their success is tied to how fast they run. Everyone is encouraged to try their best.
The program also covers a variety of lessons that are so important to young girls. It teaches tools on self confidence, empathy, friendship, healthy habits, and communication. Sometimes I wonder if the girls retain anything we teach them (because sometimes our practice feels like a giant mess!). But then, I witness girls doing amazing things– like cleaning up trash around the school, offering a friend her jacket when she’s cold, and cheering eachother on at practice, and it makes it all worth it!
During our practice 5k this year, one girl stopped just before the finish line and said she couldn’t keep going. Her friend stopped, came back to her, grabbed her by the hand, and said “I’ll pull you”. Instead of worrying about herself, she wanted to ensure her friend made it to the finish line too. I think that’s a lesson that we can all learn from.
I got into running in my mid-20’s and it has taught me so much about self confidence, being proud of my body, and how to achieve things that are really hard. I only wish I would’ve had a program like this when I was younger! A lot of girls from our program have gone on to run track in middle school, which is so amazing for the girls to continue with the sport of running!
This year, I have committed to raising money for Girls on the Run Twin Cities by being a Solemate. I hope to raise $1000 for the program while running the Twin Cities Marathon on October 6th. The money raised provides scholarships for girls to join the program, and provides things like running shoes and sports bras if their families can’t afford them. There is nothing more heartbreaking than a girl who wants to be in the program who shows up to run in sandals.
It makes me so excited to think about how many girls will be impacted by the donation by getting to participate in the program, or get a proper pair of shoes to run in! If you would like to help out, the link to donate is right here! I’ll be dedicating miles of the marathon to each person that donates and I would love to have you be a part of the journey!