Spring means enjoying the outdoors and for some local kids, running programs. The Clark Elementary chapter of Girls on the Run took a special trip to get new shoes in advance of their upcoming 5K event. Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a physical activity-based positive youth development program for 3rd – 8th grade girls that has served over one million girls across the country. Last week, participating students were fitted for running shoes – free of charge – at Ragged Mountain Running Shop. The shoes were donated by Girls on the Run Board President Frank Grosch.
Frank said, “It’s just wonderful to be involved in this event. The Lorenzoni family, the coaches, Clark Elementary, and Piedmont Housing Alliance have come together in a really special way to make the Girls on the Run 5k a very positive experience for these kids.”
83% of the students at Clark Elementary qualify for the free or reduced lunch program, so sponsorship of the Girls on the Run program, provided by Piedmont Housing Alliance, really makes a difference. Ragged Mountain Running Shop owner Mark Lorenzoni has been an enthusiastic supporter of running programs for all ages in the greater Charlottesville community and discounted the shoes in support of the girls. Mark said, “Girls on the Run is a wonderful program. What I love is that it doesn’t matter what someone’s background is, we are still treating their feet the same.”
Participants in the GOTR program develop and improve competence, feel confidence in who they are, develop strength of character, respond to others and oneself with care, create positive connections with peers and adults, and make a meaningful contribution to community and society. Each session is led by trained volunteer coaches that guide and mentor the girls. The 10-week program concludes with all participants completing a celebratory 5k event which gives them a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals. “I love getting a chance to run with other girls, which we don’t always get to do,” said one of the participants.
Program Director Haley Miller added, “The Girls on the Run program is about so much more than running. It’s really about empowering the girls in the program through team building exercises and helping them learn to have a voice and give them confidence. I wish this program was around when I was a kid.” Crossing the finish line is a defining moment when the girls realize that even the seemingly impossible IS possible. Haley added, “It is really exciting to see them at the 5K feeling so supported, so successful, so empowered and celebrated for the accomplishment but also for building these new friendships.”
We wish all the girls participating in Girls on the Run a successful rest of the program and fun later this month at the 5k event!