By: Brianna Lowry
Think back to the time when you purchased your first pair of running shoes, curious about the world of running. What color were your shoes? Who supported your decision and cheered you on? Who empowered you to take that first of what would end up being many, many steps? Now, imagine having a group of compassionate, and encouraging coaches helping you navigate those first steps. This is the solid foundation that Girls on the Run DFW (GOTR DFW) provides for young girls in our program.
What is Girls on the Run DFW?
Girls on the Run is an after-school program for girls in third through eighth grade that inspires young girls to recognize and embrace their inner strength, potential, and worth through coach-led lessons that creatively integrate running. The program’s mission focuses on empowering young girls as they explore their potential and confidently narrate their experiences using their own voice. GOTR DFW serves girls in nine counties in DFW and has helped over 10,000 girls recognize their “star power” since 2004. While empowering girls is the core mission of GOTR DFW, we also help girls realize the transformative joy of running. Our lessons include running activities and games that culminate in a celebratory 5K to commemorate the girls’ time with us and to highlight the lessons they learned along the way. With capes, tutus, and plenty of glitter to go around, our girls teach us a very important lesson: it’s never too early, or too late, to realize you are unstoppable!
How does Girls on the Run DFW help girls?
Young girls face a variety of social pressures today—whether in school, in the
media, or from their peers. These pressures can distort their self-confidence, self-esteem, and abilities. The challenges of COVID have led to increased reliance on technology to communicate with one another. While technology was helpful, this also made room for more time to spend on social media platforms where young girls see images, messages, and interactions that may do more harm than good in the long run.
Moreover, social distancing highlighted the need for all people, and especially children, to have social connections. But social distancing and increased technology use only compounded the challenges young girls have always faced during their critical developmental ages in elementary and middle school. GOTR DFW was still able to deliver its program during COVID and in Fall 2021, we have opened our program back up to in-person learning. At these sites, GOTR DFW, coaches teach young girls ways to empower themselves using a “whole-girl” approach that incorporates wellness on all levels: physically, emotionally, and socially. We target a critical stage of development so that our girls can strengthen their confidence and abilities during a time when they are most susceptible to take on societal ideals and expectations.
“GOTR girls” learn how to treat themselves and others kindly and compassionately, practice gratitude, build a sense of community that welcomes inclusivity and diversity, how to make healthful living choices, and how to tap into their limitless potential. The lessons taught by our coaches integrate physical activity and help GOTR girls develop greater confidence and courage. While our girls learn these lessons during their time in our program, the hope is that they continue to use the knowledge they have gained and bloom into empowered young women.
*Embed girls practice video here* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzZzfNgDHeQ
How can Run Project runners help empower young girls?
GOTR DFW welcomes all girls regardless of their financial ability. We see the greatest need for our program in girls who need financial support to join the program, but we need the support of runners like you to help these girls. With the help of donations from Run Project runners, we will provide scholarships to the girls who need our program the most. Every donation from Run Project runners will go towards providing scholarships and support for the GOTR DFW program. For $250, you can support one girl’s tuition, and for $40, you can sponsor a girl to have a brand new pair of running shoes.
Nearly 50% of the girls enrolled in the GOTR DFW program are scholarship-based.
Sponsorships, donors, volunteers, and other charitable organizations make what we do
possible; as a nonprofit, we rely on the support of those who not only believe in our
program but wholeheartedly support our mission, values, and passion regarding the
work that we do.
As a new charity partner with The Run Project, we believe that we can dramatically increase our impact on girls in DFW. Our hope is that GOTR DFW can give young girls the opportunity to grow in a community where they feel included, empowered, and strong running alongside the Run Project community. The earlier we start providing
this community for young girls, the better—and it begins with a single step (and, with practice, a running start).