Tomorrow morning, 985 girls in the Kansas City metro will be lining up for the Girls on the Run 5k run/walk to celebrate their completion of this empowering program. I can hardly fathom that much girl power putting one foot in front of the other, along with the support of family members, coaches, volunteers and community members. I don’t have to flip that many pages in my internal memory book to visualize my own daughter, quiet and unsure, trodding around a local park with five other girls for the very first Girls on the Run team here in KC. Six girls, six years ago. Now nearly 1,000 strong! During the 10-week program, Girls on the Run participants have been learning about topics like how to deal with bullies, healthy emotions, body image and community service while they experience the joy of moving in sync with their teammates or at their own pace.
KidsTLC, a neighbor and community partner to Garmin, has offered the Girls on the Run program to girls in residence the last three seasons. The mission of KidsTLC is to provide opportunities that transform kids and families in crisis while ensuring a safe environment. For two of my coworkers and me, coaching Girls on the Run at this site has taught us to be mindful of the challenges youth experience today while we model healthy habits. We’ve found that the teen girls at this site are especially motivated by seeing how far they’ve gone during a lesson activity—aren’t we all when we take those first running steps? The girls have had a chance to wear our Forerunner watches to track their progress during Girls on the Run sessions. No need for coaching the girls how to use these watches. They quickly figured them out and soon started asking things like “can I have the touchscreen one today?” or “how can I get it to show my heart rate?”
In a post-season survey, the girls were asked to list the one thing they learned from Girls on the Run. Here are some of the responses: I am stronger than I think, physically and emotionally. To be a responsible, caring person. That I am worthwhile. I learned that you have to be plugged into the positive cord. How to be a positive role model. And here’s what the coaches had to say: "Running has given so much to me that giving back only makes sense. Working with the young ladies at KidsTLC has been enjoyable and rewarding,” said Marisa, an active runner. Jackie, a busy mom to two boys, said “In previous years, I declined volunteering with Girls on the Run as my spare time seemed so limited. This year, the call came at the right time and for the right site. Girls on the Run offers so much to our KidsTLC students. I am happy to play a small roll in enriching their lives.” For me, coaching at KidsTLC has been an extension of my belief in living out a healthy, active lifestyle as an example for children and teens. I hope the time we invest with these young ladies will inspire them to make healthy choices for a lifetime.
Thanks to community partners like Garmin and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and others for making it possible for Girls on the Run to keep going and growing. If you call KC home, join us for our 5k celebration, Sat, May 19, 9 a.m. in Riverside, Missouri!