Girls on the Run boosts confidence, promotes healthy lifestyle

Dec. 02, 2013 @ 10:25 AM

They gathered behind Morris Grove Elementary ready to workout. With energy to spare, the all-girl group embarked on another day of Girls on the Run.

The girls are in the third, fourth and fifth grades and are part of a program that combines healthy living practices like exercise and nutrition with self-esteem and confidence building.
Elise Lindsey is in her second year as a parent volunteer with Girls on the Run. In between running laps and taking sips of water, Lindsey’s daughter Carlie Jo said that she loves the program.
“I did a running program myself and I started learning about this program for young girls,” Lindsey said. “The girls are just so great. I’ve worked with several groups and there’s such a difference in them from beginning to end.”
Girls on the Run began in Charlotte in 1996 and has since grown into an international non-profit organization that uses a curriculum designed for pre-adolescent girls that helps them embrace their individual strengths and navigate various life experiences.
“Health is a big concern for me and this isn’t pure running,” Lindsey explained. “[GOTR] uses running as a platform and the program talks about physical activity, moving forward not just physically but in your emotional capacities as well. They definitely grow a great deal.”
Running is added to the mix to help inspire the girls to be happy, healthy and confident and provide a tangible sense of achievement. The running that the girls do with each meeting is preparing them for the 5K at the end of the year.
Cloudy skies and cool temperatures didn’t dampen the girls’ spirits or their energy as they followed Lindsey in their warm-up exercises. As they stretched and loosened their muscles, Lindsey asked the girls what they can do to be physically and emotionally healthy.
“We bring out practical applications so we can talk about examples of bullying or gossiping,” Lindsey explained. “Then when they are faced with that situation they’re prepared with how to deal with it because they’ve already talked it out.”
One of the girls that Lindsey works with is Teresa Fiorito. Already an athlete, Fiorito said that one of her favorite parts of the program is the running.
“I run a lot,” she said. “I like that I can keep my own pace. I also like talking with my friends and having a positive attitude at all times.”
At a recent dinner three GOTR participants were recognized for winning an essay contest where they each talked about how Girls on the Run has changed their lives.
The contest winners were Marne Meredith, the GOTR coach at Ephesus Elementary, Julia Boltz, a fourth-grader at Pearsontown Elementary, and Julia’s running partner and father, Ed Boltz.
Girls on the Run is at several sites in Durham, Wake and Orange counties.
The Durham sites include Central Park School for Children, E.K. Powe Elementary, Voyager Academy, Creekside Elementary and Immaculata Catholic School. The Orange county sites include Efland Creek Elementary, Rashkis Elementary and Scroggs Elementary.
Lindsey has nothing but positive things to say about Girls on the Run and appreciates the integration of physical and emotional well-being being emphasized.
“This is a delicate age and so many new exposures for these young ladies that I'm glad there is a place where they can role play situations and hope this prepares them for real life experiences,” Lindsey said. “I can't say enough about the program.  I learn as much from the girls as I hope they get from me.”