LEOMINSTER — Girls on the Run Worcester County is returning to Fall Brook Elementary School this spring, one of over 30 sites the nonprofit organization will serve throughout the 2023 spring season.
Girls on the Run is based in Charlotte, North Carolina with local councils in all 50 states. According to a press release, the organization was founded in 1996 with 13 girls. It has now served over two million girls in grades three through eight across the country, giving them the tools to develop their physical and emotional health and inspiring them to be joyful, healthy and confident.
Registration for the Worcester County chapter of the activity-based, positive youth development program is now open. The 10 week spring program that launches the last week of March incorporates running to teach critical life skills, encourage personal development, and foster team building and community service.
“Girls in our program grow strong physically through our exercise-based approach, and emotionally strong through a series of confidence-based lesson plans,” said GOTR Worcester County Marketing Coordinator Katie Bullied. “Young people are struggling with their personal growth now more than ever, giving this program an opportunity to be a pivotal experience in any young girl’s life.”
Volunteer coaches utilize a curriculum to engage teams of girls in fun, interactive lessons. Teams meet twice a week for 10 weeks and the transformative, confidence-building program culminates with girls positively impacting their communities through a service project and all teams participating in a 5K celebratory event “where they see that they can achieve anything they set their minds to” Bullied said.
Jennifer Bolt, a Girls on the Run volunteer coach during the fall 2022 session, said her school “saw girls develop new friendships — both in the program and around school,” as well as “demonstrate great pride and excitement in knowing that they can run a 5K.”
Similarly, coach Heidi Richard saw a transformation in her team, particularly in the Community Impact Project portion of the program. Each team completes this project to enhance their leadership skills and serve their community and her team chose to collect supplies to donate to a local animal shelter.
“From speaking at all school meetings, to making an announcement over the intercom each morning for a week, our girls went above and beyond to spread the word and get their community involved,” Richard said.
This spring the Fall Brook team will meet every Tuesday and Thursday after school from 3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. for 10 weeks beginning March 28. All individual teams participate in a practice 5K, which usually occurs towards the end of their season.
“The girls typically run laps around their school or community center equaling the distance of the 5K to give them a better idea of the real 5K they will be participating in, a great opportunity for girls to cheer on their teammates and encourage them to keep going,” Bullied said.
The Fall Brook team participated in the Girls on the Run Worcester County fall 5K at Assumption University on Nov. 20. Their season was led by volunteer coaches Kelsey Bedard, Tracey Cavaco, Kayla Moschetti, Erin O’Toole and Tonia Young.
With the largest 5K series by number of events in the world, Girls on the Run hosts more than 330 5Ks per year in more than 13,000 schools across the country. Every team across Worcester County, including Fall Brook, will run the spring 5K on June 10 at Polar Park in Worcester.
Girls on the Run is included as a top research-based program in a Social-Emotional Learning Guide developed by researchers at Harvard University and has been recognized by the National Afterschool Association as one of the most influential after-school programs.
Bullied relayed that she enjoys being part of an organization that aims to lift up young women and spread “the crucial message that they are strong, capable, and impactful leaders of tomorrow.”
Girls in grades three through eight can register today to be entered into lottery status, which gives each girl a fair shot to participate in the program. The lottery will run through Feb. 3, and those who register during this period will be notified of their girl’s registration status no later than Feb. 6. Following this period, registration will be on a first come, first served basis.
For more information about coaching or registering for the Girls on the Run program visit gotr-worc.org.