Or­ga­ni­za­tion cham­pi­ons girls into con­fi­dent young women

Or­ga­ni­za­tion cham­pi­ons girls into con­fi­dent, strong young women

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By SARA NEW­MAN snew­man@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @in­dy_­com­mu­nity

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 gotr­south­ernmd@gmail.com

STAFF PHOTO BY SARA NEW­MAN

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.

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