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Girls on the Run is the first of an entirely new type of recreation program that combines physical training for a non-competitive 3.1 mile running event with warm-ups, team-building activities, discussions and workouts age-appropriate to 3rd-8th grade girls. It is a physical activity-based positive youth development program – or PA-PYD – designed to develop and enhance girls’ social, psychological, and physical competencies to successfully navigate life experiences. These competencies are most often referred to as life skills. Some skills include how to get along in a group, how to assert oneself in a healthy manner, how to stop a gossip chain and how to combat the negative and unattainable images young girls see in the media. A PA-PYD program has the content, structure, training, and motivating elements that promote healthy lifestyles and prevent unhealthy and risky behaviors.
"Many of my experiences with Girls on the Run were very helpful in the problems I faced in life and also helped me be... ME. I had many problems and I think without girls on the run, I would still be going through them now. Like, when we all did the emotions lesson. That helped me get over the death of my grandma 5 months ago. Also, the lesson on bullying helped me get through a bullying situation at school." -Heaven, age 10
The 24-lesson Girls on the Run curriculum combines training for a 5K (3.1 miles) running event with lessons that inspire girls to become independent thinkers, enhance their problem solving skills and make healthy decisions.
The curriculum focuses on three main themes: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large. These themes are based on research regarding the challenges and issues facing adolescent girls. They are designed to build the resiliency and life skills girls need to face those challenges head-on.
Over the course of the program, girls will develop and improve competence, feel confidence in who they are, develop strength of character, respond to others and oneself with care and compassion, create positive connections with peers and adults, and make a meaningful contribution to community and society.
"I coach to help shape future girls/women who love themselves truly - mind, body, soul." -Coach LaQuana
Visit the Evaluations Page on our website to find out more about the past and current academic evaluations undertaken by Dr. Rita DeBate, Ph.D., MPH, CHES, assistant professor in the department of Health Behavior at UNC-Charlotte.
Research is on-going, and findings are used to update the curricula regularly.
"I was so impressed with the lessons learned and even witnessed her use them in real life. It also has sparked a desire to run in her. I have never been a runner/excerciser in my life and I trained with her in the Fall because she asked me to be her running buddy. A program that can motivate our family to be healthy together is well worth it." -GOTR parent
For girls, physical activity is essential! Not only does physical activity promote health, but it also facilitates the development of social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physical, and moral competencies, as well as resiliency, self-efficacy, identity and civic engagement. We are committed to changing the gender stereotypes that still persist and influence the extent to which girls participate in or shun physical activity.
"I love to see how the girls grow in their friendships with one another. They truly support one another and encourage each other. The curriculum builds them up and encourages them to open up and talk and share their feelings. It’s amazing to watch these girls grow in their running. Their faces when they run their first mile, two or three is priceless they are so proud of themselves and each other." -Coach Heather
This is a time when children are still receptive to what adults have to say, yet they are beginning to feel the pull of peer pressure. Studies show that around the time of 5th grade, girls tend to go to a place that we call "The Girl Box." The Girl Box is a place where girls feel as if they are valued more for their appearance, their friends and what kind of clothes they wear - as opposed to the strength of their character. It is the perfect time to address important personal and relationship issues to a girl - like learning how to manage her emotions, the dangers of gossiping, how and when to speak up for herself and more. This is the ideal age for girls to develop the skills for handling these issues so that each girl STAYS OUT OF THE BOX.
"The lessons they taught the girls each week brought about many discussions that may otherwise not have happened. It allowed these girls to think about things and open up to talk with adults about their thoughts and/or problems." -GOTR parent
We want each coach and girl to have a wonderful experience! Each coach is thoroughly trained on curriculum delivery, behavior management, and safety prior to the start of the season. This support continues throughout the season as GOTR staff remain an available resource for problem-solving and conflict management. At GOTR the safety and comfort of each participant comes first.
"This is one of the best experiences I have had working with kids. I was very hesitant to coach (mostly because I never saw myself as a "runner"). I am so glad I did and will continue to coach as long as I can. This organization is amazing, from the efficiency and communication of the GOTR staff, to the curriculum taught in practices, this is a great thing for girls." -GOTR Coach