On this Thanksgiving I am taking the opportunity to reflect on the blessings in my life. One of the blessings that I have had the opportunity to participate in formal running programs and clubs throughout my life. As a teenager and then later a college student, being involved with formal running programs and clubs added so much to my life. To my high school and college running friends that might be reading this thanks for the fun times! Running taught me goal setting/perseverance, gave me a social outlet and was just plain fun.
Now there is a national program that helps young girls ages 8 -13 have that same opportunity called Girls on the Run.This awesome organization was founded in 1996 by Molly Barker, a four-time Hawaii Ironman Triathlete. Barker has a Masters Degree in Social Work. She is a former high school teacher and track coach. She also worked as a college counselor.
According to Girls on the Run.org, she founded this organization, "to celebrate the gifts of girlhood and to address what she calls Girl-Box issues." Their website details more about the program and how it works.
Girls on the Run® councils across the United States and Canada serve girls in their local communities under the umbrella of our parent organization, Girls on the Run International. Our 24-lesson curriculum is designed for 3rd – 8th grade girls and combines training for a 5k run with lessons that inspire them to recognize and honor their individual strengths and talents and to celebrate their inner selves. The culminating event of the 12-week season is the opportunity for the girls to participate in a non-competitive 5K running event. For most of the girls, this is the first time that they have ever attempted a physical goal of this magnitude and completion of the 5k provides an incredible feeling of strength and a real sense of accomplishment.
The curriculum is designed to aid and support girls in their emotional, physical, social and intellectual development.
Girls on the Run promotes physical, emotional, social and intellectual development in 3rd through 8th grade girls. The girls complete the 12-week program with a stronger sense of identity, greater self-confidence, a healthier body image and a better knowledge of what it means to be a member of a team and a community.
Each of the twenty four Girls on the Run sessions adheres to a formal structure that combines physical activities with experiential learning activities.
Every session begins with a getting-on-board and warm-up activity that brings the girls' focus to the lesson topic. The warm-up is followed by a stretching routine that allows for question and answer time and deeper discussions around the topic. A work-out game follows, where the girls participate in a variety of running activities that incorporate individual or team goals. This is followed by a wrap-up that includes cool-down stretching and final discussion. Each session closes with positive words from the team coach regarding individual and group behaviors.
A sample lesson is attached.
Girls on the Run International has evaluated program efficacy since 2001. Girls on the Run is currently the only positive youth development program for girls with evidence-based results. Rita Debate, Ph.D., MPH, CHES, developed a formal evaluation tool entitled “Girls on the Run: An Assessment of Self-Esteem, Body Image and Eating Attitudes.” Our evaluation is based on established and well-known measurement tools including the Rosenburg Self-Esteem Scale, Child/Adolescent Silhouette Rating Scale, and the Children’s Eating Attitude Test.
Prior to our program evaluation, the academic research in the area of girls and sports reflected two contradictory results. Girls involved in athletics have higher self-esteem and engage in fewer risky behaviors than girls who are not. Conversely, girls who become highly competitive in some sports (such as running, figure skating, gymnastics and other sports in which slim body images are admired) have a higher incidence of eating disorders than girls who are not involved in such sports. This poses a dilemma that the Girls on the Run® curricula address.
Unlike traditional athletic programs, the Girls on the Run curricula couple physical activity with a whole-person philosophy to provide the positive benefits of physical activity without increasing the risk of unhealthy attitudes about body image and eating. Evaluation results show that participation in Girls on the Run improves girls' self-esteem, body size satisfaction, and physical activity behaviors to a statistically significant extent. Also noted are positive changes regarding attitudes towards physical activity, health behaviors, and empowerment.
2007 Academic Evaluation
2006 Academic Evaluation
2005 Academic Evaluation
2002 Academic Evaluations." "
How can you get involved?
1. Contribute money. Girls on the Run is a national not for profit organization. Any additional funds they receive help keep current programming across the country as well as expand their programs into additional areas.
2. Volunteer. There are opportunities for individuals to start your own chapter if your area does not have this program. In addition they also need help from people willing to serve as Assistant Coaches and Race Day Running Buddies. I am filling out my application now to serve as a Race Day Running Buddy in 2011.
To find a chapter near you go to: http://girlsontherun.org
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!