Girls on the Run (GOTR) is more than a race — it’s an activity-based positive youth development program for girls in grades 3 through 8. The program weaves physical activity, such as running, into a total experience that is designed to enhance girls’ social, psychological and physical skills to successfully navigate life experiences.
Southwest Ohio Parent spoke to Annie Horn, executive director for Girls on the Run Cincinnati, about this nonprofit that’s working to empower girls’ lives.
How does Girls on the Run work?
Girls on the Run is not a running club. Rather, we use the goal of completing a 5K (3.1 miles) to help the girls progress in their individual skills throughout the 10-week season. Many of our girls are not runners and our coaches do not need to be runners, either. We simply ask each girl to do her best and for coaches to demonstrate a positive lifestyle for the girls to emulate.
The program concludes with all participants walking or running in a celebratory 5K event, which gives them a tangible sense of achievement, as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals.
The research-based curriculum includes lessons that specifically target helping girls improve in competence, confidence, caring, character, connection and contribution. Girls learn specific skills and strategies, such as how to manage emotions, help others, make intentional decisions, and resolve conflicts that they can use at home, at school and with friends.
How old do girls need to be to participate?
We have two programs: Girls on the Run for grades 3 to 5, and Heart & Sole for grades 6 to 8.
When are GOTR races run?
We conduct a spring and fall season each year. The spring 5K celebration is in early May and the fall 5K occurs around the week before Thanksgiving. Both events take place at Yeatman’s Cove and are open to the public to register and participate.
How can people help GOTR and get involved?
Volunteer coaches are certified to facilitate the curriculum before the program begins via a national coach training program. This training prepares them to build relationships with girls, create a positive, inclusive environment, support individual improvement and deliver the intentional curriculum. Each team requires three to six coaches to lead the team of eight to 20 girls over 10 weeks.
Additionally, each 5K requires about 400 volunteers. We welcome anyone to join us on the day of the 5K as a volunteer in various roles: water stop, entertainment, finish line, registration and more.
What if GOTR is not offered at my child’s school?
We are always working with the community to bring our programming to more girls. Connect with our program director Regina Rankin ([email protected]) to inquire about starting or resurrecting a team at your girl’s school or community location.
For more information about Girls on the Run, visit here.