Girls on the Run!

by Ashley Solomon

This is a “bonus” blog post for this week because I just couldn’t wait to let you all know about something that has been making me smile all week!

Last week I stumbled upon a post by Caitlin (same chick I mentioned earlier this week who developed Operation Beautiful) about Girls on the Run. When I began reading, I had the sense that this initiative was something I had heard about before, but I wasn’t quite sure. So I kept reading…

What I learned was that Girls on the Run does some truly amazing things. GOTR is an experiential learning program designed for girls ages eight to thirteen. For the past fifteen years, GOTR has been offering education and empowerment to girls as a means of not only preventing risky behaviors, but also encouraging healthy development in all areas of life – academic, social, mental, spiritual, moral, and physical. It works by offering girls a running program combined with a curriculum focused on building self-esteem and great health habits. The girls in the program follow a ten- to twelve-week curriculum in which they get to know themselves and each other, focus on team-building and communication, and develop an understanding of their local and global community. They even have lessons on media literacy!! At the end of the program, the girls complete a 5k race, an achievement that gives them an incredible sense of accomplishment and confidence.

Program evaluations have demonstrated that girls that participate in GOTR show statistically significant improvements in body image, eating attitudes, and self-esteem. The analytical side of me loves this! And the emotional side of me was brought to smiles and tears in reading some of the essays written by participants.

Check out this one written by a third-grader who learned to stand up for what she believes in. I loved how it shows the program has ripple effects – the girl became more confident in her beliefs and the boy also gained acceptance. What could be better?

So, why am I telling you all about Girls on the Run? Well, it’s a great organization worthy of attention in its own right… but I also wanted to share my “exciting news” that I have decided to join SoleMates, a program designed to support Girls on the Run. The idea is that athletes (weird to call myself an athlete, but I’ll go with it) sign up to meet individual goals, such as running, walking, or biking in a particular event, in order to raise money for local GOTR councils.

While I have discussed running on this blog, I haven’t mentioned what I’m training for specifically. I am currently training to run the 5k at the Baltimore Running Festival on October 16th. While a 5k might not seem like a big deal, particularly after having run a half-marathon, I’m running to beat a specific time that a few months ago was only a pipe dream for me. I’ve been kicking my own butt training for this event, and I decided that all of this time and energy should really have a purpose bigger than me saying I was simply able to do it. Thus, when I heard about SoleMates to support GOTR, I knew this was meant for me to get involved.

I know that there are a number of you reading who are walkers, runners, and bikers, and plenty more who could be if you wanted to, so I am encouraging you to check out this program. There are also other ways to get involved in Girls on the Run, so check out their website for details.

If you’re not in a position to join yourself, feel free 🙂 to support me in my fundraising efforts.

It’s pretty amazing when something that you’re already dedicating yourself to can help make a difference in the lives of others. Thanks for your support!

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14 Responses to “Girls on the Run!”

  1. AWWW to the essay!

    GOTR sounds like a fantastic program, as does SoleMates. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday!

    Good luck with the GOTR! It is a fantastic program!!

  3. Run on, little runner gal! We love GOTR in Cincinnati!

  4. I love the idea behind Girls on the Run! I think it would be something fabulous to be involved in and how cool that you are doing that in your own way. Your goal also sounds like a great one. It always feels so good to accomplish something (or come close to it) that you never thought possible. 🙂

  5. This is such a great organization!! I’m going to pass along the info to my sisters who each have young daughters. This is wonderful and I think it is SO important to encourage healthy body image and development starting at an early age.

  6. Ashley,

    We are SO happy that you have become a Girls on the Run SoleMate! We put together your welcome packet today, but the training manual in there is a 1/2 or Full Marathon plan. Jenny Hadfield (Coach Jenny from Runner’s World!) has just recently developed a SoleMates 5k training plan that I would be happy to send you if you’d like to email me! You’ll be the first one to see it!!
    Happy Training!
    Lauren Byrne
    Girls on the Run International

  7. Ashley. My name is Molly Barker and I am the Founder of Girls on the Run. We are THRILLED that you have signed on as a soulmate and we so appreciate your post on the program. I hope to meet you one day so that I can personally “high-five” you for the amazing work you are doing! Take care of your fabulous self!

    Molly Barker
    (www.mollyontherun.blogspot.com)

    • Molly – WOW! Thanks for commenting. I’m so excited to be getting involved and hope to be able to do more in the future. I think this is a fantastic organization! Thanks for all that you do.

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