A nationwide initiative has found its way onto Loudoun County’s tracks and fields, and is giving girls the opportunity to run and pick up a few life lessons along the way.
Girls on the Run is a nationwide nonprofit organization that seeks to empower young girls to live a joyful, healthy and confident life. Groups meet twice weekly in small groups, where running is used to inspire and motivate, and a curriculum led by coaches teaches life skills through interactive lessons and running games.
Recently, Girls on the Run has seen significant growth in Loudoun County, and just wrapped its 2017 season. As with every season, a 5K race, held Sunday at Dulles Town Center, gave the girls a chance to put their trained feet to work. It was the first time a GOTR 5K has been held in Loudoun.
Schools and community sites, such as apartment buildings, may participate in Girls on the Run programs. There are curriculums for elementary and middle school students, and each season runs 10 weeks. In Loudoun, the program has quickly expanded into 14 schools: Arcola, Buffalo Trail, Catoctin, Frederick Douglass, Liberty, Lowe’s Island, Rolling Ridge, Rosa Lee Carter, Sterling, and Sugarland elementary schools; Farmwell Station and J. Michael Lunsford middle schools; and St. Theresa Catholic School and Loudoun Country Day School. With registration for spring 2018 in full swing, Frederick Douglass, Rolling Ridge and Sugarland have all signed, and new school sites Potowmack and Sycolin Creek elementary schools will field teams for the first time.
Jennifer Passey, marketing and communications manager for Girls on the Run’s Northern Virginia chapter, emphasizes that it is much more than a running program, and open to both athletes and non-athletes.
“We’re using running as a tool to teach girls how to set goals, meet themselves where they’re at, accept others and accept yourself. It’s about really challenging yourself, feeling good about yourself, getting that small group atmosphere of being with other girls who can encourage you and also have female role models in your coaches,” she said.
Those interested in starting a team or finding out more information about Girls on the Run are encouraged to go to gotrnova.org/get-started. Applications for the spring season are due Jan. 15, and the season begins March 5.