NC school uses ‘Girls on the Run’

By John Taylor | Oct 29, 2013
Photo by: File John Taylor

The J. Smith Young YMCA in Lexington, North Carolina recently announced that it is implementing the “Girls on the Run” program. “Girls on the Run” is a non-profit organization that serves more than 130,000 girls in over 200 cities across North America each year, and works with school-aged female students on building self-esteem and improving physical fitness.
The Lexington YMCA will begin its initial “Girls on the Run” program by training 20 female students at the nearby Southwest Elementary School. The girls will participate in a 12-week program, and receive instruction and support from YMCA staff and officials from the “Children’s Obesity Fund.”
“Girls on the Run” is aligned with the mission of the YMCA: training young people to care for themselves and believe in their future success,” Jen Fuller-Allen, Program Director of the J. Smith Young YMCA, stated in a press release. “This type of coaching is critical for all young girls but particularly for those growing up in low-income areas, where it is common to struggle with low self-esteem and good nutrition and wellness routines. We are grateful for the opportunity to help transform the lives of these young women and prepare them for thriving, healthy, and happy lives.”
The “Girls on the Run” program design includes lessons to inspire young females to celebrate their bodies, honor their voices, recognize their gifts, and activate their power. With a detailed curriculum of games, activities, discussions, and running, organization officials aim to allow girls experience the joy of simply being themselves. The 12-week program concludes with a celebration of the girls’ success with participation in a non-competitive 5k (3.1 mile) walk/run.
During the course of the program, the girls at Southwest Elementary School will receive health and fitness coaching from Stacie Thompson, one of the school’s counselors. Daily meetings will be held before school over breakfast and the girls will run training laps together during recess. The Southwest Elementary team will run together in the “Run, Run Rudolph” 5K race scheduled for December 8, 2013 in Lexington to celebrate the program’s completion.
Because Southwest Elementary is a Title One School that serves a very diverse socioeconomic community, the J. Smith Young YMCA and Children’s Obesity Fund will finance all entry fees and other program expenses for every program participant demonstrating financial need.
I agree that families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds need more services and subsidies to ensure their children develop healthy lifestyle habits, mainly due to the low quality of food products many poorer households can afford. However, the young female students enrolled in the “Girls on the Run” program are being provided the opportunity to not only develop these healthier habits, but to also improve their self-esteem and character through heightening their self-worth and inner-perceptions.
Programs like this are a worthy cause for schools and community centers to look into, and since “Girl on the Run” is a non-profit organization, implementing this program to help improve girl’s self-esteem is not only monumental, but it is cost-effective.
So now school administrators just need to find the staff that will volunteer to run the program. Sadly, that may be tougher than actually getting the school board to approve the “Girls on the Run” curriculum.