Girls on the Run was formed in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina. “The Girls on the Run curricula, the heart of the program, provides pre-adolescent girls with the necessary tools to embrace their individual strengths and successfully navigate life experiences,” the Girls on the Run website says.
In 2000, the charity went international. Girls on the Run has over 120,000 volunteers and serves over 168,000 girls.
It hosts 5k runs, trains girls in running, and raises money for their charity.
Girls on the Run has a ten-week training session for the girls, from third through fifth grade. (There’s a separate program for middle school girls.)
“At Girls on the Run, we inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident, using a fun experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running,” said Joy Zdebski, the Program Coordinator for Girls on the Run in Chester County. The after-school program is twice a week for 90 minutes.
“Each lesson encourages positive emotional, social, mental and physical development. Participants explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at this age. They also develop important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences,” said Zdebski.
She went on to say, “We start with helping the girls get a better understanding of who they are and what’s important to them. Then, we look at the importance of team work and healthy relationships. And finally, the girls explore how they can positively connect with and shape the world.”
Stressing the importance of running, Zdebski said, “Physical activity is woven into our program to inspire an appreciation of fitness and to build habits that lead to a lifetime of health. At the end of each three month session, the girls participate in a Girls on the Run 5k event.”
Girls on the Run is seeking SoleMate volunteers who train for a certain event – running, biking, and/or swimming.
They ask for donations, dependent upon completing their event, and the money raised goes to Girls on the Run of Chester County.
SoleMates can use a website to meet their fundraising goals.
They can write letters and emails to their friends and family. Girls on the Run also encourages SoleMates to host events or parties to raise the money.
Many of the SoleMates serve as coaches for the program, working directly with the girls in the program.
“Some are people in the community that are training for an event and want to give back and choose to be a SoleMate in their community,” said Zdebski.
In 2014, Girls on the Run worked with over 1500 girls and 300 coaches in the Chester County schools.
This season, “there are over 500 girls participating in the program at 34 different schools,” Zdebski said.
WCU students have, in the past, become coaches, running buddies, and 5K volunteers.
Get involved, become a SoleMate coach, and fundraise for this great organization.
Check out girlsontherun.org for information on how to get involved.
Theresa Kelly is a fourth-year student majoring in English literature secondary education. She can be reached at TK780615@wcupa.edu.