Girls on Run program expands to two more schools
For Girls on the Run after-school club, it’s not just about running, it’s also about self-confidence, emotional health and having good relationships with friends.
North and East Elementary joined the “Girls on the Run” family this year, beginning their involvement in a nationally recognized program designed to encourage young girls and emphasize the connection between physical and mental health.
JC Healthy Schools Coordinator Kelsey Chrisman, who helps oversee the program, said it was about making sure students “feel good about themselves inside and out.” .
The program has been offered in Callaway Hills, Thorpe Gordon and South elementary schools in the past, but is new to northern and eastern elementary schools. Belair and Callaway Hills hope to participate in the program in the spring.
Girls on the Run is not just a track and field practice.
“Their program creatively integrates running into the program,” Chrisman said.
A typical practice, led by the Healthy School Building Champion and his team of staff, begins with a five-minute snack offered by the program, followed by a short moment to talk about Girls’ Days.
After talking about their days, the coaches will take a lesson with the girls, with topics ranging from understanding their emotions to valuing friendship. Then they go out to warm up and start the race, which lasts about 30 minutes.
“It really focuses on the whole girl,” Chrisman said of the program. “I know there’s the word ‘run’ in it, so people think that’s it, but to be honest it’s a little piece.”
Chrisman said they were trying to find ways to make it fun.
“We do some fun ways to keep track of your laps if it’s a lap day – beads on a bracelet – and then these kids find out at the end that they’ve run about 3 miles or something,” but they didn’t even know it, “she said.
And that doesn’t have to run – Chrisman said they encourage girls to do whatever they want, whether it’s running, walking, jumping, jumping or dancing, as long as they’re physically active and participating.
The program is designed to help connect the physical and emotional health of girls, which Chrisman said can be vitally important in adolescence.
“I think Girls on the Run also catches girls at a very critical age and stage where we can build their confidence and how to build healthy relationships with other friends,” Chrisman said.
At the end of a practice, the girls will cool down and receive their “homework,” usually a task like saying “hello” to a teammate throughout the week. The girls report on their task at the next practice.
“It’s fun to listen to a third grader say, ‘Oh, I said hello to the fifth grader at the water fountain’ or in the hallway, and those third and fifth graders year would never have recognized each other otherwise, “Chrisman said.
Chrisman said many activities are designed to encourage teamwork. The teams range from eight to 20 girls; she estimated that East Elementary had eight participating girls, while North had 12.
It is also a valuable experience for coaches. Chrisman said coaches often sign up because they want to exercise after school.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do your own little physical activity,” Chrisman said. “And then they love him even more because of what he teaches girls.”
Chrisman called the program “invaluable”.
“I believe it can transform the lives of girls just in this aspect of increased self-confidence and developing healthier relationships with each other,” she said.