FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Girls on the Run is an international organization with a group right here in northeast Indiana. It’s an organization that teaches girls in 3rd through 5th grade healthy lifestyles and life lessons. The end goal of the 10 week program is to run a 5K, which is 3.1 miles. This year the girls will be running the River City Rat Race on Sunday, October 23. They train for that with the help of their running buddy, a family member or volunteer from Girls on the Run. Small groups meet twice a week after school to train and work through lessons. They cover topics relevant to pre-teen girls like peer pressure, choosing good friends, rumors, and bullying. After they talk through the lesson and work through specific scenarios, they play an active game relating to the topic.
The practice NewsChannel 15 watched was about bullying, so first they talked about different kinds of bullying and what to do when you see those happening. Then they talked through specific scenarios of bullying that could happen in each girl’s life. Next they played a version of freeze tag to “trick them into running” as one coach said, while still thinking through the bullying scenarios. There were three groups; bullies were the taggers, those being bullied got tagged, and bystanders were off to the side doing jumping jacks. After a few minutes of that, the game changed. Now the bystanders were stand-byers. They had the ability to unfreeze those who were being bullied. This showed the girls in a very tangible way how important it is to step in when you see someone else being bullied.
At the end of the practice, they run laps around the field. For each lap they get a bead to add to a bracelet or necklace that shows how many laps they have run. The girls in this group say they come because they enjoy running, but also because they enjoy talking through practical issues with girls their age and getting support in dealing with those tough issues. One coach told NewsChannel 15 it’s important for girls to practice a healthy lifestyle, but this program also helps them build their self-esteem.
The new season will start in March 2017. Click here for information on how to sign up or to learn more about this program.