Raising a child is never easy, and raising a daughter comes with its own challenges. You want your daughter to be strong, smart and confident. The problem is that you can’t be with them all of the time to guide them when they need advice, hold them when they need comfort or pick them up when they fall down. Eventually they go off and find their own path in life. All we can hope to do is give them the tools to make them successful.
One of those tools is Girls on the Run. If you have never heard of them, and you have a daughter, you should check them out: http://www.girlsontherun.org/
Girls on the Run is a 10-week program for girls 3rd-8th grades. The 6th grade program “is rich with themes girls can relate to, addressing the whole girl-body, brain, heart, spirit and social connection-and building important life skills such as team building, developing a support system, boundary setting, decision making, asking for and providing help and more.” They also incorporate running, and the program ends with a celebratory 5K.
Location: Central York High School
Timing: Clock only (but time isn’t the point)
Course: Parking lot, trail and track
Size: About 175 girls (350 with Running Buddies)
Pre-Race: In the Dallastown Area Intermediate School District the spots fill up very quickly. If you are interested in signing your child up, you should do it the day registration opens. I was online as soon as the window opened to make sure we could get Kayleigh signed up. Registration was straight forward and allowed you to choose a “Running Buddy” to run with your child during the Celebratory 5K. My daughter honored me by choosing me as her Running Buddy.
Girls on the Run does an awesome job of keeping you in the loop. I received weekly emails from the Program Coordinator, Betsy Stein-Hoffmaster, that included information about the program and updates on the race. I also received emails from my daughter’s coach, Pam, which provided information specific to Kay’s team. **** It is Pam’s last season as coach so let me give a “Shout Out” to Coach Pam. Thanks for being a part of my daughter’s growth and development. It is volunteers like you that make a big, positive difference in the lives of our girls. Awesome job, you will be missed, and best of luck to you! -Thanks to all of the coaches who volunteer their time.****
Coach Pam gave us two opportunities for the Running Buddies to come and run with their kids. They also brought in some girls from the local girls X-country team to come and support the teams. I missed the first chance to run, but made it to the second. It was amazing to see everyone cheering and supporting one another. It was everything I had hoped for when Kay began the program. If that wasn’t cool enough, Kay finished the whole 5K without walking! It was a challenging 5K around the hilly neighborhood around her school and she kept going, never giving up. I was so proud I may have teared up a little (but I blamed it on the rain). ****A second “Shout Out” to Kay’s Language Arts teacher, Mrs Veiss, who stood in as Kay’s Running Buddy the day I couldn’t make it. That meant the world to me. Thanks so much for your dedication.****
Race Day: We arrived about 815 for the 945 race. They had an awesome group assisting with parking. We walked right up to the stadium where we received our racing bibs and Running Buddy placards. We found the Dallastown Area Intermediate School teams in the bleachers to check-in and then we wandered around the stadium. They had tattoos, make your own sign stations, and a hair coloring station. Kayleigh put up with me for about 20 minutes and then wandered off to be with her friends until the start of the race.
The Race: Our goal was to run the whole race. I told Kay that I didn’t care if we were first or last as long as we ran together and did our best. The course was pretty flat, flatter than the two practice 5Ks she had run previously.
Kayleigh never faltered. She didn’t stop, never complained and kept on keeping on. I probably told her 100 times how proud of her I was, and I meant it each time. She ran a nice steady pace the whole race and then out kicked me for the last 100 meters.
Post Race: Kay received her medal and we made her pose for a few photos. Maybe a few hundred photos (did I mention I was proud?). Kay celebrated with the rest of her DAIS team and coaches, and then we headed for the refreshments. They had water, bagels and hot chocolate, but the line was long and we we starving. So we were off to Cracker Barrel.
Goodies: The Girls on the Run t-shirts, the awesome medal below, new friends, and life lessons.
What can I say that I haven’t already said? You absolutely need to look into this program if you have a school-aged daughter. I have seen Kay grow during the 10 weeks she has been participating. She has made new friends, gained more self-confidence and hopefully gained some valuable tools that will help her become a healthy, happy teenager. What more can I ask for?