Girls on the Run sprint past peer pres­sure

Rappahannock News - - THE RAPP - 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.

“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.

A Girls on the Run event at Ver­dun.

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