Girls on the Run is a national nonprofit which strives to teach young girls self-esteem, confidence and focus in their lives.
The local program has selected a board of directors. The newly formed board includes Britney Cooke, Erika Cooke, Emily Stone, Stephanie Stone, Mallory Annis, Michelle Mazzolini and Jennifer Browning.
Nationally, Girls on the Run was formed in 1996 and has grown from 13 girls in its first chapter to more than 60,000 participants each year. Almost 1 million girls have completed the program’s training over the years. Tri-athlete Molly Barker was the founder.
The program is divided into two divisions, Girls on the Run for young ladies in the third through the fifth grades, and Girls on Track for grades 6-8.
The local chapter, which is expected to begin registration at the first of the year, will work only with the younger division. The chapter could expand to include a Girls on Track chapter in future years.
Preliminary plans are to form two separate groups in the Cleveland Girls on the Run Chapter with approximately 15 girls in each group.
The program curriculum consists of 24 lessons over three months, where the girls are taught life skills through group processing, a community serviceproject, running games and workouts by certified Girls on the Run coaches. The sessions will be capped with a 5K run.
The 5K run typically involves participants from the community, including the girls’ “buddy runners,” parents and friends. More than 100 running events were organized nationwide last year, with more planned for 2012.
The first eight lessons will center on the girls getting to better know themselves. It is hoped as the girls examine their values they will begin to understand their likes and dislikes.
They will then share this understanding with each other. The lesson topics over the first month will include “fueling our healthy pace,” “centering on the importance of slowing down” and “celebrating gratitude.”
The eight lessons over the second month will concentrate on team building, being supportive, and learning to listen and cooperate. The eight lessons over this month include “standing up to peer pressure,” “gossiping hurts everyone” and “It’s OK to choose my friends.”
The final eight lessons during the third month will relate to the world at large. This includes making a contribution to the community and learning to recognize and deal with the negative messages many people, especially girls, receive from the world in general (including media awareness and negative peer pressure).
Lesson topics for this final month include “learning about the community,” “tuning into a new messages (media awareness)” and the development and implementation of a group community project.
Girls on the Run International, with headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., develops curricula and provides support to local chapters. The organization has received inquiries about the formation of new chapters across the nation, and from 43 countries around the world.
Girls on the Run’s mission is “To inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”
In addition to providing the program for young girls, the organization also strives to provide life-changing and high-quality skills to women developing and delivering the programs.
Members of the local chapter’s board of directors will travel to Charlotte to be trained as coaches for the Cleveland chapter. After the season, they can train others to coach.
For more information about the Cleveland Girls on the Run chapter, contact Erika Cooke at 834-1855.
n Saturday’s Jingle Bell Run on Cleveland High School’s track will be a fundraiser for the local Girls on the Run chapter. Saturday’s event is sponsored by Cooke’s Food Stores.
Registration begins at 1 p.m., with races getting under way at 2 p.m. The run will be a one-mile race for kids under 12 and a 400-meter run for kids under 4.
Activities will include photographs, cookies and hot cocoa with Santa.