GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Everyone knows the pressures of the preteen years. With the influence of culture and relationships, sometimes this transitional phase can lower a girl’s self-esteem. However, the Kent County Girls On The Run seeks to solidify the confidence girls need to hold their head high as they transition.
As a non-profit, the Girls On The Run is a national organization with over 225 participating councils. With Kent County as one of them, the Kent County Girls On The Run seeks to teach self confidence and healthy habits for girls within the county.
At a basic level, this is an after school running program that meets with girls ages 7-12 twice a week. In small teams, the GOTR begins with life skill lessons, as well as physical activity. It may seem far fetched to think physical activity can instill broader visions of the curriculum, but the blend of the curriculum with physical activity truly allows the girls to effectively solidify these life skills.
We use the physical education part to cement the lessons…research has shown that activity helps the lessons land and stick in the girls’ minds” -Lori Burgess
Lessons are important for these girls, but GOTR also recognizes the invaluable role of their coaches. As volunteers, these moms, business leaders, and teachers allow the girls to have a positive role model to look up to. But these mentoring coaches also impact the girls by uplifting them and their capabilities as well.
My favorite part is the lessons because it helps me find my inner beauty” -Student
Through partnerships with area school districts, the Kent County Health Department, and Gazelle Sports, Kent County GOTR is able to effectively run their program in area schools.
These partnerships also enable the program to put on a final 5k for the girls. As the finale of their training, this 5k provides a tangible way for the girls to see the result of their hard work and dedication.
As a collaborator, Gazelle Sports recognizes the financial barriers that may prevents girls from participating in GOTR. But because they value engaging the community in physical activity, Gazelle provides financial assistance through funding and scholarships, as well as proper shoe assistance through their shoe fitting program.