BENEFITING: GIRLS ON THE RUN WILLAMETTE VALLEY
ORGANIZER: GIRLS ON THE RUN WILLAMETTE VALLEY
EVENT DATE: Jun 03, 2017
As an educator, I have been a part of many different types of programs, but there is no program that has impacted girls the way I have seen that Girls of the Run (GOTR) does. This is my third year as a GOTR coach and the confidence, compassion, and community building that this program instills in the girls is priceless. I have seen girls completely transform through the course of the 10 week program. They go from being unsure of themselves with their heads slightly down, to shining brightly as they run, skip, walk, and jump across the finish line at the end of the season 5K. It is truly incredible to see the transformation of the girls from the start to finish. They learn life skills that go far beyond running. They learn about empathy, connectedness, standing up for themselves, and the list goes on. This program is life changing for all involved. I want to tell a personal story about a girl, who we will call, Megan. This girl was considered a class "bully." She had very few girlfriends and teachers at school were getting frustrated with her behavior in class. Things were rough at home, too. Mom just had a baby with her new boyfriend and Megan felt like the only way to get attention was to be as "bad" as she could possibly be. Although her teachers and mom were reluctant, I pushed for her to join the GOTR team at the school. At the beginning of the season Megan was playing the typical "mean girl." She was excluding girls from groups, saying put downs, and constantly using negative self talk. At about the half way point in the season, something changed in Megan. She started to be the first to include others. She would look for the girl that didn't have someone to run with and was the first to nominate someone else for the Energy Award at the end of practice. We also saw a shift in her school behavior. She started to use the lessons she learned in GOTR in the classroom. She even taught girls not in GOTR about some of the things she learned. On the day of the race, Megan held her head high as she ran the 3.1 miles with TWO running buddies. She finished as on of the strongest, but that wasn't what I was proud of. I was most proud that she stood at the finish line and cheered on every single girl as they finished. It was a complete transformation that changed Megan's life. This year is the first year that Hoover Elementary in Salem will have the GOTR program. All of our girls are able to participate at a much reduced rate. Even with the reduced rate, the majority of our girls are unable to cover their cost for the program. Our team's soulmate account will ensure that girls at Hoover will be able to participate regardless of ability to pay.