Girls across Delta County are on the path to becoming strong, self-confident young women through an after-school program called Girls on the Run. Two afternoons a week, girls from Cedaredge, Delta, Hotchkiss and Paonia gather with their volunteer coaches to train for a 5k run/walk in May.
This unique program incorporates life lessons such as resisting peer pressure, making healthy decisions and dealing with body image.
The program is coordinated by Jessica Beller, a teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, and is part of the larger affiliate Girls on the Run of Western Colorado. There's a network of over 170 Girls on the Run locations across the U.S. and Canada.
Beller estimates over 200 third-eighth grade girls and 65 volunteer coaches, primarily mothers, are involved in the program. There are also some junior coaches from the middle and high schools. They continue to participate in the program while taking on some leadership roles.
The 10-week program started Feb. 19 and will culminate with a huge 5k event May 4 in Grand Junction. Girls from multiple sites in Grand Junction, Moab, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Olathe, Montrose and Delta come together to celebrate their healthy outlook on life. Each participant is recognized as a unique, strong individual who understands what it means to be part of a team and a community.
Jill Henwood, the executive director of Girls on the Run of Western Colorado, is credited with bringing the international program to the Western Slope. Beller serves on the board of directors. She reports the program has doubled in size over the past three years. Throughout the region, over 1,800 girls and over 400 volunteers take part. In mountain communities where snow often covers the ground late into the spring, Girls on the Run takes place in the fall.
Beller said the program truly changes the way girls feel about themselves. They're often more willing to participate in class, and overall they're happier and have a more positive attitude.
Girls are charged $50 to participate, which covers about half the cost of team T-shirts, water bottles and entry fees. "One of our missions is to have an affordable, accessible program for girls," Beller explained. For that reason, scholarships and fee waivers are available. "We rely heavily on community sponsors," Beller added. Two fund raisers are currently underway. One is the "run raiser" being conducted by the girls themselves. The other is an adults-only event at Two Rivers Winery in Grand Junction Thursday, April 18. Information on the 2013 Flip Flop Fling is available online at www.gotr
Between now and the 5k in Grand Junction, the girls will be doing a practice 5k with middle and high school athletes in their community. These combined practices really get the girls excited, said Beller, who has two daughters of her own.
Beller expressed her appreciation to the female volunteers who have committed time for training and practice, and to the school district for providing a safe area for the girls to practice.blog comments powered by Disqus