If you are my friend, or even a vague acquaintance you have probably been given my “Why I love Girls On The Run” speech. Most of you politely nod and even eagerly agree about how wonderful it is and how fortunate we are to have such a great program for Girls available in our region. And for that I am very grateful. It makes me so happy when I can explain what Girls on The Run is all about to someone new and watch as their eyes light up when they “get it” ! They get that this is not just some after school running club or child care program – this is an intense 10-12 weeks of curriculum and training that pushes these girls to do more than they can imagine and arms them with the tools and the power to become strong young ladies and proud and successful women later in life (that is part of my speech by the way).
For those of you who have also taken up a torch for GOTR, and given us a gift or participated in one of our 5k’s, volunteered as a coach, running buddy or SoleMate, and helped at our office or an event, I thank you deeply. If you are still trying to figure out what the heck I am talking about please allow me to enlighten you on why Girls on The Run is so Much Fun!
First: Coaching! I keep saying “Girls On The Run is So Much Fun” because at the end of every practice as a coach you are surrounded by 12-18 little girls between 3rd and 8th grade screaming that chant and jumping up and down and giving high fives and “energy awards” (google Girls on the Run Energy Awards and watch the videos – hilarious)! To explain the feeling you get from the energy and fun these girls give you is impossible! Try to imagine a bunch of happy puppies or kittens playing and climbing all over you and just being adorable… yeah, it’s kinda like that. To get that kind of unconditional love and joy thrown at you twice a week for 10-12 weeks is better than any pick me up or “Get Happy” strategy I have ever found. Hands down being a Coach for GOTR is A-Ma-Zing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a big commitment, both mentally and with your time. However, if you can make the time to do it, the mental, physical and emotional rewards you will take away are 10 times more than what you will give. Ask any coach. They will tell you the same thing.
Second: Curriculum! A well thought out plan with a purpose is an awesome thing. I am a planner. I love data and statistics. I love to make decisions based on logic, truth and facts (with a healthy dose of gut instincts and compassion on top)… The fact that Girls on The Run is so purposeful with its curriculum is so great! It was developed by experts in their fields. It has been crafted and managed for years by people who love the mission and understand the tools needed to make it happen. We teach powerful things to these young ladies. And we have a ton of fun doing it. We play games, we have group discussion, we have activities and crafts and a million little small individually significant moments that build into this overall giant amazing thing: A Girl. A girl who is strong, healthy, happy and confident – and ready to take on the world.
Third: Cookies! Did you know that by 2050 1 of every 3 adults in the US will have diabetes? I just saw that statistic last night in the trailer for “Fed Up” a documentary coming out in July about the condition of the food system in our county. That is a terrifying thought. We have to break this country’s sugar habit. And I am just as guilty as the next person. Let’s face it – it feels almost impossible to buy anything that does not have added sugar anymore. So at GOTR we try to model a habit of healthful eating and activity. No, you do not have to be perfect with your eating or look a certain way or EVER compare yourself on a scale to another human being. However, it is important to be aware of how you treat your body. If you are proud of yourself than act that way. Be kind to your mind, body and soul by eating things that build you up and do not tear you down. With that in mind we try to help the girls lean how to make good choices. And yes, every once in awhile, we like to eat a cookie, and so we do!
Fourth: Competition! We do not push competition too much in GOTR but it is there. A healthy dose of motivation and encouragement to try harder, do more, and to push yourself to succeed and to finish something meaningful underlies everything we do. But the beauty of our program being designed around running is that you can compete and push against yourself. You don’t have to measure against others if you do not want to… you can just say, “Today I am going to go out there and take one step further than I did yesterday.” And when the girls do that it is a beautiful thing to watch. Their minds are opened to a world where they can decide that they want to accomplish something, go work at it and then make it happen. The fact that it takes time, and that sometimes you don’t succeed right away or in the way you thought you would is just as powerful as when you reach your actual goal. This is kind of competitive spirit is a tool every woman should have and that we teach at GOTR. Every moment is an opportunity to learn and grow – through both your successes and your challenges. Every person has a different path and goal – and each should be respected and encouraged just as you are.
Fifth: Closeness! I have always loved doing things that were both good for my body (fitness) and my soul (philanthropy & spirituality). I also love doing things with my daughter. So when I found a program where I can coach my daughter and her classmates, and teach them about running, fitness, nutrition, self-confidence, self-respect, friendships, and community service, it was like someone took all the things I loved and rolled them into one! I fell in love with GOTR right then and there and I have never looked back. Even now – years later, while I am no longer coaching, I do what I can to continue to make a difference through the things I have learned as a coach in Girls on The Run. Also, after 5 or more seasons in the program, my daughter has moved on to new things too! I know our time together in GOTR has made us better family members, given us a closer relationship, and propelled us to go and do other things we love – with confidence and poise and kindness and joy. That last sentence is a priceless and magical gift – and is the reason Why I Love Girls On The Run!