If you haven’t already heard about Girls on the Run, stop everything.
Girls on the Run is a nationwide transformational learning program for 8 to 13-year-old girls, with a local chapter here in the greater Portland metropolitan area. GotR teaches life skills through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running games. After several months of preparation, the program culminates in late May with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5k running event. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness. Girls on the Run takes young women at the very cusp of the most body-conscious years of their lives and– instead of focusing on losing weight or fitting societal expectations of body norms– inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.
How is this, exactly? For one, studies have shown time and again that regular exercise inspires self-confidence, improved mood, better sleep, and a more well-balanced outlook on life. When you’re looking at a population of young girls who are on the brink of their teen years– a time in life when a woman’s risk for depression triples and suicide is the third leading cause of death— running’s good outcomes for the body and mind are good news for the youngest of women among us.
How can you help? There are three ways:
COACH THE GIRLS: Girls on the Run Portland is currently looking for nine coaches, but they need to have them signed up by February 28. If they don’t get coaches for these locations, the girls at these schools simply will not get to participate in the program at all.
Coaching is one of the most rewarding ways to be involved with Girls on the Run. Coaches are volunteers who facilitate easy-to-follow, well-researched curriculum at each program site. They commit to coaching 90 minutes, 2x per week from March 10 – June 3, 2014. Coaches don’t have to be runners; they just need to be a role model for the girls by showing positive behavior, being interactive with them and listening attentively. For each group of 15 girls, there is one Lead Coach and two Co-Coaches.
Feeling your heart strings tugged yet for all the girls that will be left out without your help (or maybe the help of someone you know who would be perfect for this gig)? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 503-318-5212, or visit this site to learn more.
BE A RUNNING BUDDY: If you don’t have time to coach the girls, the Running Buddy program offers the chance to volunteer on just two dates but still get the warm fuzzy feeling in your heart from helping make a difference in a young girl’s life. Running Buddies are 600 women who are paired with a young girl who is of similar pace. If you sign up, you get to run a Practice 5k (May 1, 4:30-6:30 PM) with your matched girl as well as an actual timed 5k event (May 31, 6:30-8:30 PM). Registration for Running Buddies opens on March 10. Being a Running Buddy is a great way to be involved in the program without a substantial time commitment. Running Buddies get to share a girl’s exhilaration and excitement as she crosses the finish line of her very first 5k– enthusiasm you may find catches fire to your own exercise routine. Having an older companion paired up and running with them is one of the most personal, special, and encouraging aspects of the race to many of the girls.
Are you game? Email email@example.com, call 503-318-5212, or visit this link to learn more.
SPEAK UP: If you’re anything like me, you’re crazy busy. Between planning a wedding, starting a new Big Law job, writing for Run Oregon, getting my first non-fiction essay published in a book in the fall, being on two different women lawyer’s committees, and running whenever I can, I am on turbo speed most days of the week. I find that my meaning in life comes, however, when I step outside of the things that I have to do and choose to make time for things that inspire me. Girls on the Run is one of those things. For me, it recaptures the day I decided to try running. As I handed out medals to the finishers at the 2010 Little Rock Marathon, watching their faces filled with joy and relief at a job well done, I wanted to capture that feeling for myself. Helping young girls discover running and self-confidence by working on the GotR Practice 5k Committee continues that initial inspiration. Find your own passion by checking out other volunteer opportunities here.