We need to talk about Girls on the Run. I first heard about it awhile back when one of my friends from college posted some adorable gifts she’d made for her team and I was very curious. I loved running and growing up I had always done a lot of volunteer work with younger kids and mentored, but found I didn’t have time to keep up with it in college. I missed it. So, when I started reading more about GOTR, I knew I wanted to get involved.
Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization that has volunteers from the area meet a couple of times a week to coach 3rd-5th graders about running and building positive body image. Each lesson has a focus on a topic that resonates with their age group. This weeks topic for instance was bullying. We’ve also discussed plugging in to positivity, taking a second to stop and breathe, gossiping, and a whole lotta other fun things. We always start out with a snack and an overview discussion about what we’re covering that day and then head outside for a game that gets the girls moving but also incorporates the topic. After that, it’s running until their parents come and steal them back.
Each week has been better than the last and I’m loving being a coach. The girls are always so enthusiastic about learning the new lesson and it’s not hard to get them to participate in discussions at all. Plus, by far the most interesting part is that girls this age have no filter. They will tell you what’s on their mind whether or not you want to hear it and they say some of the best little tidbits. For instance, this past week when we were discussing bullying, we had the girls run laps and when they would finish a lap we would ask them a question like “If you saw a third grader bullying a first grader, what would you do?” and they have to think about the answer while they take the next lap and then report back with an answer. The girls got so in to this exercise, they were running their laps at warp speed I swear. I couldn’t blink before they were back again ready and eager for a new question. Even after we were finished and were waiting for carpools to pull up, the girls were still asking for questions and it was awesome.
I also made a quick fun treat for them post-run. It took me all of 5 minutes, but they loved it.
To write the messages, you just take a clean safety pin and lightly etch in the words. Wait a couple of minutes and they’ll get darker as they oxidize. When I told the girls they were getting bananas after their run, you would have thought I told them it was birthday cake. I honestly have never seen any one get so excited over fruit, but I guess this group is a rare breed. The season is wrapping up in a couple of weeks and I have learned so much from being a coach and from these girls. I can’t wait for the spring season. Check out Girls on the Run and see if they have one in your area. Even if you can’t volunteer every week, try to run the 5k at the end of the season! I’m sure it’ll mean a lot to the girls just to have more friendly fitfam members by their side.