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Thursday, May 5, 2016 12:12 am

Fearless, fast and free to be female

Running, confidence-building program culminates in 5K

On your mark, get set, go! Girls on the Run program participants plus community runners at the start of a GOTR 5K race.


Girls on the Run is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that strives to create a world where girls are aware of and capable of activating their potential, giving them the confidence to pursue their dreams. This is taught through the sport of running, in the form of an after-school running program for girls in grades 3-8 of all fitness and activity levels. Through twice-weekly team meetings totaling 3-4 hours per week, dedicated volunteer coaches teach girls life skills via interactive lessons and running games.

The GOTR curriculum is separated into three easy-to-digest modules. Over the course of 10 weeks during the fall or spring season, GOTR participants learn to understand the self, value relationships and teamwork, and understand how females connect with and shape the world at large. By exploring these concepts, girls develop and reinforce social, psychological and physical skills and abilities. Upon completion of the 10-week program, participants complete a 5K race and celebrate with a post-race party. Through the GOTR curriculum, 5K and celebration, girls feel a sense of achievement and learn how to lay the framework for setting and achieving life goals.

Active since 2004, the central Illinois chapter of Girls on the Run splits runners into two age groups: grades 3-5 and grades 6-8. For girls in grades 3-5, emphasis is placed on exploring who they are and what their values may be. The program for grades 6-8 is called “Heart and Sole,” and takes into consideration the fact that adolescent girls often receive conflicting messages about their worth, abilities and values. As a result, Girls on the Run coaches are trained to facilitate supportive, in-depth discussion on topics frequently surrounding adolescent girls, such as eating disorders, Internet safety, relationships, cyber-bullying and tobacco/alcohol use.

The Spring 2016 Girls on the Run program has 712 participants and 250 coaches, for a 2.8-to-1 ratio of girls to coaches. According to Katlyn Puclik, development and marketing manager for Girls on the Run, organizers would like to see a 1-to-1 ratio of program participants to community runners in the spring 5K. The race is open to any and all members of the community, of all fitness levels.

Help the spring 2016 participants of Girls on the Run celebrate their accomplishments by running, walking or skipping to the finish line alongside them in a 3.1-mile race on Saturday, May 14, at Lincoln Land Community College. While the race starts at 10 a.m., the fun begins at 8:30 a.m. when the Race Village opens. Visit the Race Village (conveniently located adjacent to the start/finish line in the parking lot of the Millennium Center) for pre-race needs such as packet pick-up and last-minute registration. Don’t forget to visit the face painting, happy hair and spirit stations! Race registration is $20 for ages 3-12 and $30 for ages 12 and up. To register for the May 14 5K visit http://bit.ly/1X4BImH.

The fun doesn’t stop once the race has been run; now it’s time to celebrate! Head back to the Race Village for post-race treats plus food for purchase from Secret Recipes and Dew Chili’s food truck, music by the GOTR DJ, first aid and chiropractic care, a photo area with props, and more.

For more information about Girls on the Run, including how to register your child for the 10-week running program or how to volunteer your time for the 5K event or become a running coach, visit http://gotrcentralillinois.org/ or call 726-9808.

Contact Nan Bulli at nbulli@illinoistimes.com.

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