Girls on the Run DFW (GOTR) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. Through two intentionally designed programs, GOTR empowers girls in 3rd- to 8th-grade to recognize their inner strength, increase their level of physical activity, imagine their possibilities, and confidently stand up for themselves and others through the innovative integration of fun physical activities, life-skills lessons, and impactful community projects.

GOTR improves the well-being of all girls across DFW through a research-based, intentionally designed curriculum with evidence of impact. Dynamic lessons instill valuable life skills, including the important connection between physical and emotional health, allowing GOTR to make a stronger impact than organized sports and physical education in teaching life skills like managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others, and making intentional decisions that has a lasting impact in the community through positive social, emotional, and physical health outcomes.

The program is led by trained volunteer coaches and explores core topics relevant to 8- to 13-year-old girls, including understanding emotions, fostering friendships, and expressing empathy. The coaches and curriculum create a sense of belonging for all participants and meet the vital and changing needs of girls.

Coaches foster a safe, caring environment and deliver the program across 60 sites, comprised of public and private schools, community centers, and park. Positive health outcomes extend beyond the participant to caregivers, coaches, schools, and the community at-large, with engaging activities that enable support of GOTR participants.

Girls on the Run programming culminates with girls positively impacting the world around them through a community impact project and completing a celebratory, non-competitive 5K. It is through these two essential components that girls are first able to apply the life skills learned in the program and gain critical confidence through accomplishment, as well as demonstrate their enhanced physical activity skills.

GOTR remains steadfast in serving the whole community and removes barriers to participation, financial and otherwise. With focus on effort and personal improvement, participants of all abilities build their emotional and physical capacity. GOTR is committed to ensuring that lessons remain relevant to things currently impacting girls and offers a culturally responsive framework, ensuring the program experience is reflective of diverse participants. The curriculum provides space for girls to connect lessons to their contexts and share what matters most. Coaches use inclusive language and examples and scenarios that are relevant to their teams.

Girls on the Run program was founded by educator and former Ironman, Molly Barker, in Charlotte, NC in 1996. Inspired by her own childhood experiences and her work as an educator and coach, Barker piloted the earliest version of the curriculum with 13 brave girls. In 2000, Girls on the Run International (GOTRI) became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and serves as the headquarters for local Girls on the Run councils across North America.

Established in 2005, Girls on the Run DFW Metroplex is an independent council of Girls on the Run International, which has a network of over 170 locations across North America. The organization serves over 800 girls annually in grades 3-8 within DFW including 50% of girls from lower socioeconomic and income-constrained backgrounds who require financial assistance to participate in the Girls on the Run program. Girls on the Run is for all girls and remains steadfast in serving the whole community by removing barriers to participation, financial and otherwise.

Girls on the Run was recognized by Harvard University and the Wallace Foundation as a top research-based program, and only one of three social-emotional learning programs with an integral emphasis on equitable and inclusive education in a report entitled, “Navigating SEL From the Inside Out”. The research concluded that, “much more than a running program, Girls on the Run is designed to inspire girls to recognize their inner strength and celebrate what makes them one of a kind.1” Additionally, the preschool and elementary focused guide recognized Girls on the Run as one of just three social-emotional learning programs with an integral emphasis on equitable and inclusive education and a commitment to intentionally integrating English Language Learners (ELL) into the program delivery by providing extensive training and supports for equity, ELL, trauma and special education2. Additionally, GOTR was recommended by the National Afterschool Association (NAA) as one of the most influential after-school programs in Health & Wellness3 and, in 2019, recognized as a featured Bright Spot organization in the U.S. Health and Human Services’ National Youth Sports Strategy4.

In a 2023 U.S. Surgeon General report, entitled “Physical Activity: An Untapped Resource to Address Our Nation’s Mental Health Crisis Among Children and Adolescents5,” Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, MD, discussed the link between physical and mental health among children and adolescents, specifically highlighting Girls on the Run as an example of a program that is focused on removing barriers for underserved populations to access to physical activity. The report cited how the program increased participants’ overall physical activity and helped them learn critical life skills, including resolving conflict, helping others, or making intentional decisions.

Girls on the Run is thrilled to partner with Run Project’s Skyline race this season for our celebratory 5K! Tell a friend, make a plan, and embrace the spirit of connection with us at the 5K. The race will showcase all that girls have accomplished this season – forming new friendships, building unwavering confidence, unlocking healthy habits, and so much more. When it comes to achieving goals, participants are better together.  This is a day where communities throughout the region come together to recognize just how far participants have come and how far they will continue to go. Join us April 20, 2024 for an unforgettable day!