WASHINGTON COUNTY — Young girls of Washington County can show off their girl power as they gain confidence and stamina in the new Girls on the Run 10-week program.
Girls on the Run focuses on the emotional, mental and physical needs of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade girls through a running-based curriculum. The Washington County council’s team of girls began its training in July at Paramount Elementary School.
Director and coach Julie Quelet, program coordinator Victoria Loley and volunteer Pam Clemmer are coaching the program’s 13 girls through the first season. The last day of classes is Nov. 21.
The team meets twice a week for a lesson consisting of a warm-up discussion, a game and a wrap-up discussion. Lessons are based on the developmental needs of young girls, such as the importance of life values and a healthy body image. The team also chooses a community project to complete during the season.
As the final step of the program, the girls run a 3.1-mile race as a team. This year, they will run in the Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day.
Quelet said the girls are excited about the program and confident that they can run the 5K race.
“They are beginning to grasp the concepts that we are teaching them,” Quelet said.
Plans are being made for the next season of Girls on the Run, which begins in March 2012.
Quelet said she hopes to open two additional sites, for a total of three teams. Volunteers are needed to coach the teams.
“We can expand as fast as we get people to coach,” she said. “It’s just a matter of donating your time.”
Coaches use the free lesson materials from the organization for the team meetings, Quelet said.
Quelet’s goal for the spring is to have a community site not based at a school so young girls from a variety of schools can participate.
The application process is an open, first-come, first-served process. Quelet said each team is limited to 15 girls. Information is sent to Washington County schools so girls who are interested can apply for the program.
The plan is to have a website running by the spring season, so applications for the program can be completed online, Quelet said.
Girls on the Run can be contacted through its Facebook page or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parent Kathy Jordan said her daughter loves being in the program and has benefited from all the lessons on self-respect and improving her self-image.
Eventually, Quelet wants to activate a similar program called Girls on the Track for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade girls in Washington County.
Girls on the Run is a nonprofit international organization based in Charlotte, N.C.
Founder Molly Barker, who is a four-time Hawaii Ironman Triathlete, began the program in 1996 with 13 girls. As the program grew each year, Barker inspired girls to run with confidence.
In 2010, Girls on the Run had grown to 193 councils and 99,000 girls, said Susan Gray, council relations manager at the international office in Charlotte.
Girls on the Run can be found online at www.girlsontherun.org.