Multi-color knee high socks, neon-colored hair, face-paint, tu-tus and running shoes....the latest fashion trend? Well, maybe, however that was what filled the Crichfield Elementary School in La Porte this weekend as hundreds of participants geared up for the first Girls On The Run 5k in La Porte County.
Girls On The Run (GOTR) is a national organization who's mission to "inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running." Each spring and fall girls in 3rd through 8th join teams according to their grade level to be inspired, build friendships and confidence, and train for a 5k during a 12-week program.
The focus is not on a finishing time, but rather completing a 5k be it walking, running, or a bit of both. Two times a week girls and coaches meet for 90 minutes. In these sessions girls discuss a curriculum which covers subjects like body image, modesty, healthy living and more; they also train for the 5k. Elementary students and junior high students are in separate groups, so conversations can be geared toward them.
With the support of La Porte Mayor, Blair Milo, a GOTR event was brought to the city for the first time. Teams from Northern Indiana, and surrounding areas, including a team of 22 girls from Porter County's Sunset Hill Park spray painted their hair, made posters, and had their faces painted, and psyched themselves up for the run. Each girl had a running buddy to encourage them along the way. Many family members including moms, dads, brothers, and sisters also signed up and ran or walked the course. As each person finished, they were awarded a medal, then were treated to snacks and drinks back inside the school.
One of the Porter County coaches, Tammy Zack, really enjoyed the experience. "Working with GOTR was a great experience. The program is so strong for running and also for the growth of young girls to be more aware." In addition to what they learned, they also had expanded their circle of friends. Coach Tammy added, "To look at a group of 22 girls who hardly knew each other at the beginning to see the relationships grow and how close they became through the activities and the running was amazing. The discussions with the girls were very insightful and they shared their feelings and experiences of bullying, body image, running, and friendship to help all the others. I feel honored to have been a part of the Sunset Hill GOTR group!"
For more information about GOTR, visit www.girlsontherun.org, and if you hear "girls on the run is so much fun" from a bunch of giggly girls, make sure to go out and cheer them on!