By Linda Dillman
Elementary school girls at Winchester Trail in Canal Winchester are learning to listen to their bodies and love the very machine that propels them forward to a season-ending goal of running or walking a 5K.
Sole Sisters is an after-school fitness club for third to fifth grade girls. The group was formed by Laura Shirkey and Melissa Grimmett in the spring of 2016.
Coach and third grade teacher Molly Pifer said that seven years ago there were several opportunities in the community for boys. Shirkey and Grimmett wanted to provide an after-school program for girls at Winchester Trail Elementary School to learn healthy habits.
“Sole Sisters is important for the community because it gives an opportunity for the girls to exercise and build relationships with peers while also learning to love their bodies,” said Pifer and fellow coaches Macala Heffelfiner and Ashley Morris. “We hope they take the lessons they learn in the program with them as they get older. We have also heard that several girls who run in Sole Sisters go on to participate in track and/or cross country in middle school and high school.”
Coaches are female members of the Winchester Trail staff. The program is also open to female family members and middle school/high school female students.
“Girls who have been a part of Sole Sisters in the past often come back to be running buddies,” said the coaches. “We meet at Winchester Trail on Mondays and Wednesdays after school.”
The season starts in March and ends with the 5K. The first 5K was held during the school day and not open to the public. After the club’s first season, organizers realized how impactful the program was and decided to bring it to the PTO.
The May 6 Sole Sisters 5K is the first in-person event since the 2020 season was cancelled and is open to runners and walkers of any age. Check-in starts at 8:45 a.m. and the race steps off at the Canal Winchester High School football stadium at 9 a.m. The cost is $20 and pre-registration—which includes a t-shirt—is now open until April 14.
“Our amazing Canal Winchester Local Schools PTO sponsors the event by allowing us to use their platform to open the event to the public,” said Pifer.
Sole Sisters organizers are looking for sponsors or community members to help cover the cost of necessary expenses, such as t-shirts, water bottles, after-race snacks and/or donate race-day items.
To donate, register, or for information, visit www.cwlspto.org/solesisters, or contact Pifer at email@example.com; Heffelfinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or Morris at email@example.com.