First off – this weekend was fabulous and will be fueling blog posts all week!
Saturday, I had the opportunity to spend the morning with Girls on the Run DC. GOTR is an organization that gives girls, grades 3-8, an opportunity to be a part of a team, work towards a common goal and learn self-confidence, healthy habits and how to cultivate happiness. The DC chapter supports 1000+ girls with over 250 coaches in schools around the city.
The program is built around fitness and character development – one of the things I love the most about GOTR is not that it is about running, but that the 24 session curriculum really focuses on building self-awareness, self-acceptance and shows the girls how they can make a positive contribution to their community and to the world. Many of these girls across the country, but especially in DC, are facing tough times with their families. Some have only one parent, or are being raised by guardians, who may or may not take an active interest in their lives. Others don’t have the proper nutrition or clothing to participate in sports. GOTR helps provide all of this through their program, with supportive coaches and available scholarships to girls who need proper shoes or other items to fully participate with their team.
Saturday, we spent the morning meeting some of those scholarship girls and getting them fitted for new sneakers. Pacers Running store also volunteered their time to properly measure the girl’s shoe size and to watch their gait for any needed stability. I pretty much spent my time meeting the girls, giving them some direction (stand in line here, take off your both your shoes, wow – check out those rainbow socks!, etc) and finding out more about their experience with GOTR. Many of the girls had made friendships on their team and also across teams at other schools. Some of them would come up to my sign in sheet and ask if Jennifer or Mykia had been in yet to get their shoes. These 7-13 year olds impressed me with their politeness, inquisitiveness and desire to be involved.
Each GOTR team meets twice a week for a lesson and exercise-focused activities. The season culminates in a 5k race, where the girls prove to themselves, their team and their community that they can set a goal and reach it. I can’t possibly think of a better way for young girls to feel accomplished – mentally, physcially and emotionally.
I seriously love this organization. In May and June, I’ll be back with GOTR to help organize and implement the 5k race – putting together race packets and being a “running buddy” for one of the girls that needs some extra support during the race. But, I really, really want to coach a team. Given the school schedule, it proves pretty difficult to coach when you have a regular 8-6 kind of job, but I am going to see what I can work out for the fall season. Perhaps a weekend practice would be okay every once and a while! For now, I’ll drink my morning smoothie out of my “honorary” GOTR Coach cup and daydream about leading a team 🙂