PHOTOS TERRY JOHNSTON
At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, the stadium at East Kentwood High School was filled with over 2000+ strong, confident elementary school girls ready to give new meaning to the phrase “girl power.” The girls, along with family, friends and community members, arrived together, in teams, in a 5 K (3.1 mile) celebration run to mark the completion of their involvement in the 10-week Kent County Girls on the Run program.
Prior to the event, Molly Barker, Girls on the Run‘s founder, spoke to two local elementary Kent County Schools. Barker started Girls on the Run in 1996 to help girls untangle from the negativity that squishes their spirits during middle school. She left her career as a counselor to do it, making ends meet by catering at night. Her passion for the cause was fierce. Barker started the program in Charlotte, N.C. with 13 girls. Today, it’s grown to 160,000 girls in more than 200 cities. (Read more)
The most important day for every GOTR girl is the Season Finale 5k – this is an event where they can celebrate all their hard work and training! Because this is such a special day for so many, the entire community is invited to participate. The goal of the season finale 5K is for the girls to do their best while having fun! The girls are not encouraged to race competitively, but rather to reach their own individual goals. For most girls, that means making it to the finish-line – whether by walking, running or skipping.
Girls on the Run is a national nonprofit program that combines training for a 5K (3.1 mile) run/walk with a series of engaging, fun lessons that inspire girls to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. The non-competitive 5K celebration run is a capstone event that helps participants realize the power they have to achieve their goals.
The Kent County Girls on the Run is now in its ninth year. Kicking off the 2013 season, KCGOTR welcomed 8 new sites to their Council family, making a total of 68 sites in schools throughout Kent County. 2055 girls participating on over 130 teams. This is all done through the efforts of over 270+ volunteer team liaisons and coaches. The teams, comprised of girls in the third through fifth grade, meet twice a week after school and follow a 10-week curriculum that mixes running workouts with games and group discussions on topics ranging from emotions and gratitude to gossip, bullying, drugs and nutrition.
A key part of the program is involvement in community service. Each team selects a project in which to participate in as a way of experiencing what it means to help others. The program culminates with the non-competitive 5K celebration run, a capstone event that helps participants realize the power they have to achieve their goals.
A similar program, Girls on Track, is offered in the fall for girls in grades six through eight.
The program is funded by program fees, offered on a sliding scale, donations, sponsorships and grants. A number of fundraising events are held throughout the year to raise funds to support the nonprofit program.
LIKE Kent County Girls on the Run on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kcgotr
Kent County Girls on the Run on Twitter: http://twitter.com/KCGOTR
Kent County Girls on the Run website: http://kcgotr.org
Girls on the Run website: http://www.girlsontherun.org
Girls on the Run Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/girls.on.the.run.international
Girls on the Run Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/GOTRI