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One girl put it this way, "I learned that I am the boss of my brain." Helping girls take charge of their lives and define the future on their terms. You can also think of it as Can University—a place where girls learn that they can. No limits. No constraints. Only opportunities to be remarkable.
Lots of ways, but we start with helping the girls get a better understanding of who they are and what's important to them. Then we look at the role of teams and healthy relationships. And, finally, we explore how girls can positively connect with and shape the world. And remember, we believe that life-changing experiences can be fun too—for everyone—the girls, coaches, families and other volunteers. So don't be surprised when you hear laughter along with self-reflection and see beaming smiles across the beautiful, confident faces of our girls.
Girls on the Run is the first of an entirely new type of recreation program that combines physical training for a non-competitive 3.1 mile running event with warm-ups, team-building activities, discussions and workouts age-appropriate to 3rd-8th grade girls. It is a physical activity-based positive youth development program – or PA-PYD – designed to develop and enhance girls’ social, psychological, and physical competencies to successfully navigate life experiences. These competencies are most often referred to as life skills. Some skills include how to get along in a group, how to assert oneself in a healthy manner, how to stop a gossip chain and how to combat the negative and unattainable images young girls see in the media. A PA-PYD program has the content, structure, training, and motivating elements that promote healthy lifestyles and prevent unhealthy and risky behaviors.
The 20 lesson Girls on the Run curriculum combines training for a 5K (3.1 miles) running event with lessons that inspire girls to become independent thinkers, enhance their problem solving skills and make healthy decisions.
The curriculum focuses on three main themes: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large. These themes are based on research regarding the challenges and issues facing adolescent girls. They are designed to build the resiliency and life skills girls need to face those challenges head-on.
Over the course of the program, girls will develop and improve competence, feel confidence in who they are, develop strength of character, respond to others and oneself with care and compassion, create positive connections with peers and adults, and make a meaningful contribution to community and society.
Visit the Evaluations Page on our website to find out more about the past and current academic evaluations undertaken by Dr. Rita DeBate, Ph.D., MPH, CHES, assistant professor in the department of Health Behavior at UNC-Charlotte.
Research is on-going and findings are used to update the curricula regularly.
Fortunately, research1 also shows that:
For girls, physical activity is essential! Not only does physical activity promote health, but it also facilitates the development of social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physical, and moral competencies, as well as resiliency, self-efficacy, identity and civic engagement. We are committed to changing the gender stereotypes that still persist and influence the extent to which girls participate in or shun physical activity.
This is a time when children are still receptive to what adults have to say, yet they are beginning to feel the pull of peer pressure. Studies show that around the time of 5th grade, girls tend to go to a place that we call "The Girl Box." The Girl Box is a place where girls feel as if they are valued more for their appearance, their friends and what kind of clothes they wear - as opposed to the strength of their character. It is the perfect time to address important personal and relationship issues to a girl - like learning how to manage her emotions, the dangers of gossiping, how and when to speak up for herself and more. This is the ideal age for girls to develop the skills for handling these issues so that each girl STAYS OUT OF THE BOX.
We want each coach and girl to have a wonderful experience! Each coach is thoroughly trained on curriculum delivery, behavior management, and safety prior to the start of the season. This support continues throughout the season as GOTR staff remain an available resource for problem-solving and conflict management. At GOTR the safety and comfort of each participant comes first.
GOTR-Columbia is involved in ongoing evaluation to continuously improve our volunteer support and overall program quality. This includes participating in formal research and evaluation led by Dr. Aidyn Iachini, an Assistant Professor at the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina.