Girls on the Run

Grow­ing run­ning pro­gram teaches girls con­fi­dence and fit­ness

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@pottsmerc.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

POTTSTOWN >> More and more girls in the Pottstown schools are on the run, thanks to a pro­gram de­signed to boost their con­fi­dence, their fit­ness and their lead­er­ship skills.

Last year, the pro­gram — ap­pro­pri­ately named Girls on the Run — was pi­loted at Barth Ele­men­tary School with 24 stu­dents.

This year, the suc­cess of last year’s pro­gram spawned sim­i­lar ef­forts at Franklin and Lin­coln ele­men­tary schools as well as Pottstown Mid­dle School.

Specif­i­cally, Girls on the Run is a 12-week phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity based youth de­vel­op­ment pro­gram “that inspires girls to be joy­ful, healthy and con­fi­dent us­ing a fun, ex­pe­ri­ence-based cur­ricu­lum which cre­atively in­te­grates run­ning,” ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the Barth lead­ers, whose nine coaches and 6 vol­un­teers helped 31 stu­dents.

More than just the art of run­ning, the Girls on the Run Pro­gram taught other lessons as well, and, at Barth the girls par­tic­i­pated in a com­mu­nity im­pact pro­ject, clean­ing up the Barth court­yard.

The Barth stu­dents com­pleted a prac­tice 5K in April and in May joined dozens of other schools, in­clud­ing those from Pottstown, in a 5K held at Wis­sahickon High School that boasted 809 girls and 1,100 coaches.

“Though the com­ple­tion of the 5K the 14 Franklin girls learned they are ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing any goal they set their mind to; even the im­pos­si­ble is pos­si­ble,” wrote the four coaches at Franklin Ele­men­tary School.

“As a build­ing we had pre­sen­ta­tions from Sarah Blum ex­plain­ing what GOTR was all about. We were hooked from the start,” the five Lin­coln coaches wrote in an email.

“We knew that we wanted to do this to help our Lin­coln girls. The lessons that were shared were things that we knew our girls would ben­e­fit from,” the wrote. “They would be gain­ing so many qual­i­ties and lessons that they can take with them for the rest of their lives,” lessons that in­cluded con­fi­dence gained, fears over­come and friend­ships forged, they wrote.

At Lin­coln, the 11-mem­ber team “started our lessons ei­ther in the gym or a near by class­room watch­ing videos, play­ing games, and hav­ing dis­cus­sions on what­ever the daily topic was. Af­ter our les­son we would head out­side, weather per­mit­ting, and chal­lenged the girls with run­ning laps around the build­ing,” the coaches wrote.

“We started with five laps pro­gress­ing all the way up to 15 laps equal­ing 3.1 miles. We were for­tu­nate to be able to take the girls to Me­mo­rial Park for our prac­tice 5k half­way through the sea­son. The change of scenery re­ally forced the girls to chal­lenge them­selves,” they wrote. “Af­ter each prac­tice we fin­ished in the gym with dis­cus­sions, wrap-up, and their fa­vorite thin­genergy awards.”

At Franklin, the prac­tice 5K was a school-wide af­fair.

“Be­fore the prac­tice 5K, the Franklin GOTR pro­gram had a rock­ing pep rally, with the en­tire school in at­ten­dance. All of the class­rooms made flags, ban­ners and signs to sup­port the girls,” the Franklin coaches wrote.

“Each par­tic­i­pant was called up by name and a slide show to mu­sic was pre­sented spot­light­ing the sea­son. The en­tire build­ing par­tic­i­pated in a brain en­er­gizer called the Cha Cha Slide. The school cheered the girls on as they left the build­ing to start the prac­tice 5K and con­tin­ued to sup­port them out­side as they ran,” the wrote.

“As the girls com­pleted each lap around the build­ing a let­ter was writ­ten on their arm. Af­ter the ten laps they had the word the “IN­CRED­I­BLE” on their arm.”

At the mid­dle school, the six-mem­ber team prac­ticed twice a week from Fe­bru­ary lead­ing up to the event in May. “Dur­ing prac­tices the girls par­tic­i­pated in ac­tiv­i­ties that built self es­teem, en­cour­aged lead­er­ship and team­work, and fo­cused on mak­ing smart choices,” the five mid­dle school coaches wrote.

“My daugh­ter truly en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence and it has given her the dream to com­pete in track and field once she is in mid­dle school,” Barth par­ent Danielle Prouty wrote in an email to The Mer­cury.

This year’s Barth Ele­men­tary School Girls on the Run team.

Barth First Grade Teacher Kathy Ea­gle con­grat­u­lates run­ner Ni­jae Grosvenor.

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