Sunday, March 9, 2014

Girls on the Run

Yesterday I went to a new coaches training to be an assistant coach for Girls on the Run this spring.  After being in a room with so many incredible woman, and learning more about what the program stands for, I am so excited to work with these young girls over the next 10 weeks.

I first learned about GOTR when I ran Applecrest Half Marathon in the fall.  The GOTR did one of the water stops and had signs along the course.  I hadn't heard of it before that race, and was curious what GOTR was all about.  When I got home I looked it up and immediately realized what an amazing program it was.  I decided I wanted to help in some way, but wasn't really sure how.  I emailed the executive director of the NH council and asked what I could do.  She mentioned that the end of the season 5k was coming up in a few weeks and they were always looking for volunteers.  Sign me up!

Unfortunately come race day, mother nature was unaware of the hundreds of girls who worked hard all season to run the 5k that day.  It was unseasonably cold, windy, and unsafe for the young girls.  The race was cancelled, which obviously left everyone very sad, including me.  I was very much looking forward to volunteering in the medical tent, and then running the course as a sweeper.  I stayed in touch with the program coordinator, and offered to volunteer again if needed.  She presented me with the idea of coaching.  I told her that I would be interested, but had never coached running before and would have no idea what to do.  She thankfully said that was not a problem, and that they offered training to many who have never coached running before.  After a bunch of emails back and forth, I was convinced that this was something I would like to try.  

After yesterday's training, I almost feel as though coaching these girls is something I was meant to do.  I don't say or feel that way often, but as I was sitting there I felt like it was exactly where I was supposed to be.  On the GOTR website it says: 

We believe that every girl
can embrace who she is,
can define who she wants to be,
can rise to any challenge,
can change the world.

We watched a video that was made by the founder of the program, Molly Barker, and she talked about why she started GOTR.  She talked a lot about the "girl box."  Basically, the box that girls feel like we need to put ourselves in to fit in to society.  We need to act a certain way, dress a certain way, look a certain way.  I thought a lot about this because this is very much the way I felt for a lot of my life, which led to some very unhealthy behaviors that I have finally broken free from.  However, to say I am 100% confident in my own body, is unfortunately still something I have to work on every day.  

The mission of GOTR is to "inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running."  What I love about this and this program, is the amazing message of strength and confidence they are working to instill in these girls at a young age.  While I was listening to everyone speak yesterday I felt like this was the kind of program I could have benefitted from when I was a child.  Since I didn't have the opportunity then, I am so grateful to have this wonderful opportunity now.  I really believe that in coaching these girls to find confidence in themselves, their abilities, and their bodies, I too will be helping myself to do the same.  

I would encourage anyone and everyone to look at this amazing program and offer to help in any way you can.  I think GOTR is something really special and I hope to be involved for many years to come.   


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