Girls on the Run
Girls on the Run is a great organization that uses training for a 5k to talk about body image, healthy living and other important topics with 3rd – 5th grade girls. The organization has been around since 1996 and was founded by Molly Barker, an ironman triathlete and social worker. She wanted to create a program that would provide girls with positive role models and confidence through accomplishment.
When I first moved to DC, I was a coach with GOTR. It was a great experience. I went to an elementary school twice a week and worked through the curriculum with three other coaches and 10-15 girls depending on the day (these kids are seriously over-scheduled). I learned a lot (and had my patience challenged a lot). It was also a good reminder that there were other things happening besides me and my small world.
3rd-5th grade is an interesting age group. Many third graders (in my limited experience as a coach) are still young enough to want to please the coach/teacher but some of the 5th graders were very tweeny and already talking about losing weight and how to diet and worried about popularity and boys. 2-3 years is a huge difference at that age. Hopefully this sort of program gets in the minds of these girls to teach them how to identify which “health” messages actually are healthy or just marketing (something most adults I know aren’t able to do). There actually is a day designed to talk about advertising that encourages the girls to talk about and think about these things and what they’ve seen.
I quit coaching when I started grad school last fall. I wanted to continue but with work and school, I was too over-scheduled to squeeze in an extra commitment. But since I recently left my job, I now have a bit more free time and am excited that I’m going to be coaching again this spring!