This year I’m very lucky to be involved in Girls on the Run, an organization that focuses on inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident through running. I started by going to a meeting to learn more about this organization and I was blown away by what they do. I knew right then I had to help somehow. This program really spoke to me because I had a coach who took a special interest in me when I was about the same age as the girls in this program. The summer before middle school, I went to a day camp and one of the camp counselors was the cross country coach for the middle school I would be attending in the fall. She took a special interest in me and we started running before camp started. That summer, I earned my first blue ribbon for running and I was so proud. In the fall and spring, I would go on to become a member of the cross country and track team at my middle school. After high school, I took a break from running and being athletic, but in the last few years I have returned to consistently running and being active. Running and being regularly active has helped me to change my physique, my perspective and my life.
I wanted to challenge myself as I haven’t really worked with children before, and Girls on the Run would provide a great opportunity to do just this. I’ve always been slightly hesitant around kids because I’m not really sure what to say to them or how to treat them. I normally just end up treating them like small adults and hoping for the best. So I took the plunge and signed up to become a volunteer coach working with 4th and 5th graders at an elementary school in Cincinnati. We meet twice a week to run, learn, and discuss important topics such as gratitude, bullying, and making healthy choices. My team consists of 15 girls and the twice a week sessions have really been valuable not only for the girls but me as well. It’s strange to think how a program targeted at young girls can also speak to adults and not just the young women. One of the recent lessons was about gratitude and how we choose to be grateful. One of the activities had the girls write down things they are grateful for as they run laps. Each of the girls blew me away with the things they are grateful for like reading, intelligence, the library, reasonable grades, and today. The lesson had me thinking about what I am grateful for… is it the stuff I fill my house with or the people around me and memories I have?
I’m truly surprised by how dialed in these girls are to the program. They focus during the lesson and set lap goals and work to achieve them each time. While not every girl is at a fitness level to run consistently, I see so many of the girls trying and improving each week. They will sprint one section and then walk a bit, sprint again and walk a bit; all the time using a run/walk method without even being aware of it. I see the progress they make each week and how ecstatic they are when they not only make but crush their lap goals. They receive beads as a way to count laps and their bead strings keep growing every week. We are about a third of the way through the season currently and I’m really looking forward to watching the girls as they continue to grow!
“The opinions expressed here are solely my opinions. Content published here is not read or approved by Girls on the Run® and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Girls on the Run®.”