Organization champions girls into confident young women
Organization champions girls into confident, strong young women
In an effort to give back to the community they now call home, two local military transfers want to establishing a local chapter of an organization they believe in.
“There’s not many women in the militar y and when you see someone who is smart and successful in her field, it’s really inspiring,” said Kristine Hall, 29, of California, Md., in an interview. “I wanted to be a role model to someone else.”
Hall, along with friend Becky Shaw, 29, of Lexington Park, aim to establish a Girls on the Run Southern Mar yland chapter enabling young girls of St. Mary’s and Charles counties to participate in the organization’s self-empowerment movement.
Girls on the Run was established in 1996 in Charlotte, N.C., and became an international 501(c)3 organization in 2000. Its mission is to encourage girls in grades 3-8 to be healthy and confident through a curriculum that centers around running and trains the girls to complete a 5K race at the end of the 10-12 week program.
“The program really encourages positive empowerment and behaviors I feel are really important for girls growing up. It targets girls in grades 3 through 8 and I think that’s the time you can make a big impression on someone,” Hall said.
Hall and Shaw both recently graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Shaw was formerly stationed in Hawaii, where she first learned of the organization.
Unlike Calvert County, which is part of the Greater Chesapeake chapter, St. Mary’s and Charles counties were not incorporated into an existing group. The pair began looking into establishing a local chapter in December. Still in the planning stages, Hall and Shaw hope to have the program up and running by September 2017.
Though the program is not associated with any school, Hall said cooperation with local schools is paramount because their audience, meeting space and track and field availability is there. The pair is currently working with two elementary school sites in St. Mary’s County — and hoping for more — to begin the program next year.
“Right now we need the administrative support from schools, teachers and principals who want this program in their schools. We need fundraising and community support,” Shaw said.
Through word-of-mouth and being able to distribute flyers through St. Mary’s County Public Schools, Hall and Shaw said they have received a lot of interest from parents who want their daughters involved in the program.
“Every time we bring it up, someone will overhear us and say how excited they are for it to start or talk about what a great program it is,” Hall said.
The program is made up of a sit-down portion, warm-up and then an accompanying run around the track. Shaw said a typical meeting will consist of a lesson on a topic such as health that the girls will discuss while stretching followed by a game and ending with a run. The goal is for all girls to be able to run a 5K at the close of the program. Shaw and Hall say they hope the Girls on the Run 5Ks will eventually become popular enough to be a county-wide event. The pair aims to create a program that will be able to continue for years.
“We’re hoping for an organization that is self-sustaining where the parents and teachers are involved because we really don’t have anything like this yet in the community,” Hall said.
Once they have submitted their application to start the chapter — a thorough process that will take about a year to complete — they will travel to headquarters in North Carolina for training, which will enable them to train their own volunteer coaches.
“I’ve heard of girls in fourth grade already dealing with bullying, peer pressure and self-confidence issues and it’s nice to surround them with other people who can build them up,” Shaw said. “Right then you can come in and stop that negative thinking and be like a big sister and be a part of the community. People in the military can be isolated sometimes so it’s a nice way to bridge the gap between the two.”
The pair will host a general meeting at the Charlotte Hall Library on July 30 at 1 p.m. to gather interest from the community.
For more information or to get involved, go to https://www.facebook.com/GOTRSouthernMaryland or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristine Hall, 29, and Becky Shaw, 29, are establishing a local Southern Maryland chapter of Girls on the Run, an organization that aims to encourage self-confidence in young girls while training them to run a 5K.