Being a “girl on the run” started for me when I was in college at KU. My sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, is a huge supporter of the program and has chosen Girls on the Run as their philanthropy. It was through my sorority that I first learned about this program and the importance it plays on young girls lives.
I remember volunteering while in college at the end-of-season 5K. It was the middle of winter and the coldest and rainiest day you could imagine. I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t cancelling it… there’s no way anyone in their right mind would “choose” to run this. When we pulled up to Arrowhead Stadium, I knew immediately I was very wrong. The tents were up, the music was bumping and people covered the parking lot dressed in tutus, face paint, and colorful headbands. You could feel the energy, positivity and love from across the stadium that I quickly forgot all about the weather. For the next hour I watched people of all shapes and sizes run, laugh and encourage each other to be their very best. It was obvious this wasn’t a race between one another; it was a race within your own self. I knew right then that this was something special and something that I had to be apart of.
Fast forward a few years, during my second year of teaching at an elementary school in Olathe, I helped establish the first ever Girls on the Run team at my school! The other coach and I were so excited when 15 girls actually signed up but immediately felt some pressure to make sure it would be as fun and exciting as I had witnessed that day at the 5K. I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the running and that I would screw up a lesson or game. After our first practice I knew I was wrong about Girls on the Run again.
I began to realize that Girls on the Run doesn’t strive for perfection. They don’t pressure you to be anything other than your very best self. They don’t keep you in a box and make you read from a script. Girls on the Run celebrate mistakes. They are a safe place to talk, listen, problem solve and grow for both the girls and coaches. We work to gain confidence and self-esteem through a clear and relevant curriculum.
As a coach, I love the fun activities and meaningful conversations. I love getting to know these girls on a deeper level and being a safe adult for them to confide in. I love watching the girls meet and exceed their goals and encourage one another at whatever stage they are. I love walking down the hall and connecting with students I wouldn’t ever know otherwise. I love watching the girls grow but I also love the growth that I see within my own self.
I love being a Girl on the Run!