Errick Road Elementary School Counselor Jennifer Henry and teacher Brooke Harris started the "Girls on the Run" afterschool program because of the positive impact it has made on girls' lives in other schools that participate in the nationwide program.
They said, "It's great because it teaches girls to be proud of themselves and just being the best that they can be. It builds up their self-esteem and confidence and reinforces embracing their inner beauty."
The program is a physical activity-based positive youth development for girls in third to eighth grades. It teaches girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experienced-based curriculum, which creatively integrates running.
"I really like (that) you are not judged on who you are," said student Jadyn Smith. "You learn something new twice a week and it is always fun."
Her best friend, Leah Dinino, said the program has improved her running skills.
"At the beginning of the school year, I could barely run a lap and now I am doing great," Leah said.
Jadyn said she goes running with her mom, who thought it would be a good program for her to get involved in. "She said this will be fun and when Leah said she would sign up too, I was really excited," Jadyn said.
Student Caroline Fruck said she enjoys the camaraderie of the other girls in the program. "It's all about feeling good and knowing you can be anything you want. I like that I have become friends with everyone in here," Caroline said.
Henry said at the team meetings they discuss and have activities on different topics. "Topics range from cooperation, healthy habits of life, expressing emotion, courage, friendship and inner beauty," she said. "We start with a group discussion, then do a physically active warm-up with a game that incorporates the topic of the day, then move into the workout where the girls focus on training to reach the goal of running a 5K race in June."
"I didn't think I would like it at first," Caroline said. "But now I love seeing what a better runner I have become and I love getting the exercise."
That is a message Henry hears over and over.
"I have been getting all sorts of great feedback from the girls," she said. "I have a lot of girls tell me they want to join next year and lots of boys who want me to start a Boys on the Run program too. Brooke and I are just so honored we had this opportunity to introduce the Errick Road School community to this fantastic program."