Girls in third through fifth grades often begin to have issues with peer pressure, self-esteem and self-image.
To help them navigate these matters, volunteer coaches Rayna Barr and Dana Osborne of Seymour are working to establish teams through Bartholomew County’s chapter of Girls on the Run.
The program has curriculum that pairs running with lessons of growing up and teaching girls how they can be themselves.
At the end of the 12-week program, girls complete a 5K, although the emphasis is on teamwork and not competition. Some teams even dress in costumes or theater makeup and run as a group.
Girls are divided into teams, which are coached by volunteers. They attend practice twice a week, where they follow a curriculum with a different topic each time and participate in a game centered around that topic.
Those topics might include being grateful, managing your emotions, picking friends, bullying and nutrition. The girls then head outside and do some warmup exercises and running to help them prepare for the 5K.
Girls on the Run has been successful for several years in Columbus, operated through Foundation For Youth. The program there has grown from 14 girls to more than 200.
Last fall, the program was expanded to Brown and Jackson counties. Girls Inc. of Jackson County is spearheading the local effort. The national program began in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Barr said Kelly Royer, program director at Girls Inc. of Jackson County, asked her to become a volunteer coach for the program, and she agreed because it sounded like the perfect idea.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Barr said. “It’s out of my comfort zone. I have a young daughter myself, and I think it’s important to instill in her the need to stay active and healthy.”
Barr’s daughter is the target age for the club, and the program is a great way to learn about setting goals, she said.
“It helps girls believe in themselves and have the confidence to accomplish something they have set their mind on doing,” Barr said.
Girls on the Run has a proven record of success in helping girls navigate the minefield of development issues, and we commend those seeking to start a local program and wish them success.
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Girls on the Run has a record of success in helping girls develop a positive self-image and to make good decisions.
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Girls face many emotional and developmental issues in middle school.