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Girls on the Run: Helping Girls to Realize Their Full Potential and Boldly Pursue Their Dreams

Younger girls sometimes have a tough time wrestling with the struggles they face as adolescents. In what can be a very trying time of their lives, in which making healthy and wholesome decisions can be difficult, one local organization, Girls on the Run of the Susquehanna Valley, is aiding greatly with these challenges. Girls on

Younger girls sometimes have a tough time wrestling with the struggles they face as adolescents. In what can be a very trying time of their lives, in which making healthy and wholesome decisions can be difficult, one local organization, Girls on the Run of the Susquehanna Valley, is aiding greatly with these challenges.

Girls on the Run is dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential, and is free to pursue her dreams boldly.

“Our mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident — using an experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running,” Shannon Butters, Executive Director of Greater Susquehanna Valley, told Webb Weekly.

According to Butters, Girls on the Run is an afterschool program like no other. Over a period of 10 weeks, girls in grades three to eight participate in lessons that encourage positive emotional, social, mental, and physical development. Participants explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges they face at this age. They also develop important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences. Girls get a better understanding of who they are, and what’s important to them. Then, they look at the importance of teamwork and healthy relationships. Finally, the girls explore how they can positively connect with and shape the world.

Physical activity is woven into the program to inspire an appreciation of fitness, and to build habits that lead to a lifetime of health. At the end of each 10-week session, the girls participate in a GOTR 5K event. This celebratory, non-competitive event is the culminating experience of the curriculum. Completing this 5K gives the girls a tangible understanding of the confidence that comes through accomplishment, as well as the framework for setting and achieving life goals. Crossing the finish line is a defining moment when the girls realize that even the seemingly impossible is possible.

“The GOTR program will inspire girls who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to participate, to be healthy, confident, and connected through engaging lessons that focus on standing up to peer pressure, making critical decisions, being intentional about choosing friendships, identifying and handling both comfortable and uncomfortable emotions, and demonstrating respect and responsibility towards themselves and others, as well as healthful living, eating and activity,” Butters said. “Over the course of the program, girls will develop and improve competence, feel confidence in who they are, develop strength in character, respond to others and oneself with care, create positive connections with peers and adults, and make a meaningful contribution to the community and society through completion of community service projects. This will then inspire family members and community members to do the same.”

The Girls on the Run program is hosted at various schools in the area, the latest being St. John Neumann Academy. According to the organization’s website, more than 800 girls are participating in the program throughout the Susquehanna Valley, and they have served nearly 5,000 since the program’s inception in 2010. They have 30 teams at 27 sites, across six counties for this fall 2018 season. Counties include Lycoming, Montour, Columbia, Northumberland, Snyder, and Union counties.

They have over 100 volunteer coaches, each season, who have all participated in the National Coach Training that facilitate each lesson.

Butters said that Girls on the Run is honored to have been the recipient of a grant from the Little League Fund for Youth Sports through the First Community Foundation Partnership of PA for two years in a row. They were happy to help support the fund by participating in a promotional video that aired during every game of the 2018 Little League World Series.

“At Girls on the Run, we envision a world where every girl knows and activates their limitless potential. We are thrilled to partner with SJNRA, in bringing Girls on the Run to their school this fall,” Butters said. “We are sure that these girls will finish this season more confident and active than when they started. Our goal is to equip them with the tools and skills they need to navigate through the trials and tribulations of their daily lives and to do it with purpose and intent.”

She said their 5K will be held on Sunday, December 2 from 12-4 at the Miller Center in Lewisburg. A family fun zone will be available for the participants and their families to participate prior to the 5K. There will be fun activities, including face painting, happy hair station, bring your running bib and attitudes of gratitude. The 5K is open to the community, and we encourage you to come out and cheer on the girls!

If you wish to become involved in the Girls on the Run program as a participant or volunteer you can contact Butters at gotrgsv.org or call 570-337-9865.

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