Girls on the Run
Like most of the world, 9-year-old Peyton Frost watched with rapt attention as athletes competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She saw the triumphant faces of the victors and cheered as long-held records were shattered.
And, like so many others, she was inspired to get involved with events other than her beloved swimming soon after.
“She really got interested in track and field during the Olympics,” said Frost’s mother Glenda.
Frost had planned to join a track team this upcoming summer, but when Glenda saw a flyer promoting a new program at the Vaughn E. Hairston Southwest Community Center YMCA, she knew her daughter could get a running start of the competition as well as meet some new friends.
She was not the only with that idea.
Kennedy Thomas, 11, said she joined this new program because she loves to run.
“I thought it would be fun and everyone in my family says I’m really fast and should be on the track team one day,” said the Park Street Intermediate student.
While a mutual interest in the sport was the main factor for these two girls to join the program, they will be benefiting from so much more.
The program is called Girls on the Run and it offers more than just physical activity.
“Girls on the Run is an interactive curriculum that boosts young girls’ self-esteem by uplifting them physically, emotionally and socially,” said Ellen Schneider, the volunteer coordinator at the Hoover YMCA Park who is also a Girls on the Run volunteer coach.
It is a 12-week program and the participants meet twice a week. During each lesson, the girls – who are in grades 3 to 5 – are taught different life-learning activities that integrates physical activity into each meeting.
For instance, they may start with lessons such as how to listen and cooperate and then parlay that into learning how to stand up against peer pressure. Afterwards – or even sometimes during the lesson, according to volunteer Rachel Jackson – they run. And when the 12-week course ends, they participate in a 5k.
“This program really gives them a foundation for team building and helps them become strong and confident,” said Schneider.
Glenda, an avid jogger herself, said she is excited that the Hairston YMCA has added Girls on the Run to their curriculum.
“I think any sport can help build self confidence, but this will build team work, commitment, self-respect and self-discipline,” she said. “I think it’s a very special thing.”
The program allotment has already been filled – Schneider said it would be hard for individuals to join during the program’s run because the lessons build from the one before it – but it will be back again in the spring. There will also be the Girls on Track program, which will be directed toward girls in grades 6 through 8.
The event was sponsored by Girls on the Run of Franklin County, which is an independent council of Girls on the Run International.
For more information, visit www.girlsontherun.org.