As part of Girls on the Run, Bodkin students learn how to deal with negative self-talk, peer pressure, bullying and more.
At Sunset Elementary, Girls on the Run members develop friendships while working to understand what a bully is, how to take care of their bodies and how they can make an impact.
Pasadena Girls On The Run Cross Program Finish Line At Annual 5K
More than 1,000 girls participate at one of the 62 Girls on the Run program sites in Maryland. Approximately half of the program sites are in Anne Arundel County. In Pasadena, Bodkin, Jacobsville and Sunset elementary schools participate in the Greater Chesapeake GOTR Council in the third- through fifth-grade program.
Certified coaches and assistants teach the girls life skills through interactive lessons and dynamic running games. At the end of each three-month session, a celebratory, noncompetitive 5K “race” is held.
On Saturday, April 22, the Greater Chesapeake Council will celebrate the completion of the spring 2017 season with a 5K run in Druid Hill Park in Baltimore.
“The program is designed to empower girls through experience-based learning in a safe environment,” said Morgan Strennen, second-grade educator and GOTR head coach of 15 girls at Jacobsville Elementary School. “The mission of the program is to inspire young girls to strive to be socially, emotionally and physically healthy, which can be used as a starting foundation for the rest of their lives.
“By focusing on the overall wellness of each of the girls, only then can true confidence blossom,” added Strennen. “Running is creatively woven within the curriculum, and helps foster each of the girls’ sense of teamwork and goal-achieving potential.”
Jaclyn Cockcroft, art educator and GOTR head coach at Bodkin Elementary School, agreed that the program is helping students grow. “Throughout the [season,] girls learn how to deal with negative self-talk, peer pressure, bullying and so much more,” Cockcroft said. “There are hundreds of activities about life lessons that are taught with running exercises. We even do a community service project.”
Bodkin, a GOTR program site since 2009, currently has 11 girls on its team. “These girls come from different backgrounds and abilities,” said Cockcroft. “It’s not about how fast you can run. It’s about crossing that finish line with such confidence and the power to be able to do anything. These girls come to practice every day with smiles on their faces and [are] excited to be here. They complement each other and cheer each other through the toughest of times.”
At the end of every Bodkin practice, girls nominate each other for Ms. Energy and Ms. Heart awards, and they share the positive roles they played during that practice.
A GOTR program site since 2009, Sunset Elementary currently has a team of 13 girls. The Sunset program shares the same mission of instilling positive values in youth and helping them face adversity.
“[The girls] develop friendships and strengthen their ability to work with others in a team as they work throughout each lesson to really understand what a bully is, how to take care of their bodies and how they can make an impact,” said Sheri Berberian, speech therapist and GOTR head coach from Sunset Elementary School.
“We select a ‘sweat goddess’ after each lesson based on how they have participated in the lesson, motivated their teammates and completed the physical activities,” added Berberian.
While the 5K is only one part of the overall session, it’s a great memory for the girls.
“Race day is an absolute blast! Everyone shows up flashing his or her team colors, music is blaring and the girls are absolutely glowing with the continued inflow of positive energy,” said Strennen. “The girls are dancing with excitement in anticipation of crossing the starting and finish line. It truly is a wonderful event that celebrates all the preparation that has taken place beforehand.”
Berberian agreed, saying, “It’s amazing to watch the girls get to the end and cross the finish line while everyone is cheering them on! It is so rewarding to be a coach and just watch the girls achieve the goals they have set for themselves.”
To find a GOTR program near you, start a new program site or for more information, visit www.girlsontherun.org.