Girls on the Run, a nationally renowned
after-school program for third- to fifth-grade girls, is coming to the Statesboro-Bulloch
County Parks and Recreation Department’s Julia P. Bryant and Brooklet
Elementary School After School programs starting Feb. 11.
It is a national physical activity-based youth development program that offers both after-school and summer camp programs to teach girls the impact physical activity and a positive self-image can have on their lives. The program was started in South Carolina in 1996 and has been in the Savannah area for 13 years.
Last year, the Coastal Georgia and Lowcountry Girls on the Run program had roughly 1,250 girls participate without Bulloch County, and they expect to serve more than 1,500 girls this year, said Maria Center, executive director of Girls on the Run Coastal Georgia and Lowcountry.
Center said the program focuses on building the confidence of girls and combating negative influences they confront daily on and through social media.
“It’s kind of a complicated world and kids are exposed to a lot of negative things, and Girls on the Run is a program that builds these kids up and gives them a positive approach,” Center said.
Girls on the Run is a 10-week program consisting of twice-weekly meetings with 20 interactive lessons during which a specialized coach teaches the girls a variety of life lessons, such as how to deal with bullying and how to combat a negative body image.
During the meetings, the girls also work toward completing a 5K, which is held at the end of the 10 weeks as an end-of-program celebration. This year’s 5K will be held on May 4 on Hutchinson Island in Savannah. Girls on the Run hosts the largest 5K series in the United States with more than 330 events.
Girls from all over the region come to participate in the 5K and their parents, coaches and community members are there to cheer them on as they complete.
“It really makes the girls feel amazing when they cross the finish line and they get their medal,” Center said. “It’s just a source of great pride for their family and for them and gives them a tremendous boost of confidence that will bleed into other parts of their lives.”
The Girls on the Run program teaches girls to discourage negative self-thought, manage emotions, build healthy relationships, form an attitude of gratitude, realize true beauty is on the inside, plan ahead, end gossip and pick good friends.
“We address the whole girl, psychological, social, emotional, physical,” Center said. “By helping them strengthen themselves and their relationship with others, we really help the girls prevent unhealthy and risky behavior.”
Bulloch County’s programs
Julia P. Bryant and Brooklet elementary schools will begin running the program starting next Monday. More schools are expected to be added at a later date.
“The Bulloch County school system is putting an emphasis on social-emotional learning, and Girls on the Run aligns with that strategy,” said Charles Wilson, superintendent for Bulloch County Schools. “We see value in this program because we believe it addresses the needs of girls in third to fifth grades. We are happy a couple of schools are participating right out of the gate and hope more will get involved as they deem appropriate.”
There are also plans to hold Girls on the Run summer camps in conjunction with the SBCPRD, but those dates have not been set yet.
The SBCPRD will offer Girls on the Run programs on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the JPB and BES sites. All girls participating in the programs must be registered through a special link given to current After School participants.
Joy Deal, After School program supervisor for SBCPRD, said, “Girls on the Run is a great addition to our youth programming in Bulloch County. We’ve been looking for something like this for a while and know it’s a win for girls in our community.”
There is a program fee of $90, if registered through the SBCPRD. The fee includes two T-shirts, a water bottle, a 5K finisher medal and free shoes, if needed. There are also scholarships for girls who may have difficulty paying the fee, and the program has never turned a girl away for not being able to pay.
Starting a program
For information on Girls on the Run’s spring season or for more information on becoming a coach, contact Tiffany Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org or (912) 486-5649.
For more information on becoming a sponsor, donor or volunteer, contact Maria Center, executive director, at email@example.com or (912) 349-1528.