Girls on the Run sprint past peer pressure

By Kathy Butler
Special to the Rappahannock News

Young girls in Rappahannock County receive so many messages from the media and each other telling them that their value is in their outward appearance. Girls on the Run (GOTR) addresses girls’ development by building self-esteem and improving physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. This is accomplished by an established and tested curriculum designed for girls in 3rd to 5th grade.

Courtesy photo
A Girls on the Run event at Verdun.

“Girls on the Run helped me meet new friends and become more confident in myself,” said GOTR girl participant. “Also, I got to have fun and participate. You don’t have to run fast; you can jog or slow run. Plus, having teammates is the best.”

GOTR inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident. This is not only the program’s mission, but the way our coaches and volunteers strive to live. Our coaches routinely express the disappointment that this program wasn’t around when they were younger and are thrilled to be working on developing additional life skills alongside their girls and growing together.

“My daughter has gotten so much from the program,” said one parent. “To be proud of herself, to stand up for what she believes in, to not succumb to peer pressure.”

A typical Girls on the Run practice includes stretching, running games, cheering and lots of talking. We talk about topics like bullying, peer pressure, healthy eating and more. The girls and the coaches are not required to run. They can walk, skip, hop or do cartwheels as long as they keep moving forward — just like in life.

The curriculum includes three components: understanding individual strengths and uniqueness, valuing teamwork and peer interaction, understanding the world at large. These lessons center around peer pressure, bullying, gossip, nutrition, gratitude and values, etc., and give girls skills to make positive decisions and avoid risky behaviors as they approach adolescence.

As an integral part of the program, the girls to create and execute a local community service project of their own choosing and experience the satisfaction that comes from helping others.

Last spring the girls in Rappahannock chose to support RAWL (Rappahannock Animal Welfare League) for their project. The girls contacted RAWL to find out what their needs were and then requested donations from family and friends.

The final portion of the program is our season ending celebratory 5k (3.1 miles) family/community running event which is attended by all the program girls in Rappahannock, Culpeper, Fauquier and Madison counties. They learn that they can achieve a goal that they once thought was impossible (completed a 5K).

Our fall 5K will be held Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. at Eastern View High School in Culpeper. The event is untimed as each girl is competing only against herself and reaching her own goals. The public is invited to participate or simply cheer the girls on as they achieve their goal of completing a 5K. We are anticipating 400 to 500 runners at this inspirational event.

Program registration for our fall season, which runs from Sept. 11 to Nov. 18 is open now. The registration fee for the 10-week program is $150, however financial aid is available during the registration process on a sliding scale. There are also payment plans available. If the program is still unaffordable, please contact Kathy.butler@girlsontherun.org, our goal is to never turn a girl away due to her financial circumstances.

To register, volunteer or donate fund to support this program, or if your school/site is interested in learning more please visit www.gotrpiedmont.org or email kathy.butler@girlsontherun.org for more information.

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