FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Hundreds of girls around the Fort Wayne area are in a program that physically challenges them to be the best they can be. They’re part of a group called Girls on the Run.
“It helps us get better,” said nine-year old Alonna Mull. “Sometimes it can be hard and sometimes just normal.”
Mull and the young runners are training for the YMCA’s 5K River Rat Race in October. Girls age 8 and up will compete against others in their age group.
“I love to run,” said nine year old Gabbey Schoenle. “I love to just get better all the time and this helps me practice.”
Personal trainer Ryane Dunaway volunteers as their coach.
“We’ve got elementary and middle school students,” said Dunaway. “We think the elementary school is the best to really target them not only from a physical activity aspect but this is really when they’re just starting to learn how to interact with each other and make friends.”
Girls on the Run incorporates individual goal-setting activities into the running program.
“We meet for about 10 weeks and we are working with the girls not only on learning how to run a 5K, because that’s our ultimate goal, but just team building skills, working with each other, learning kindness and respect,” said Dunaway. They also participate in projects that help build self-esteem and teach them that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. “It’s so important for these girls to know how beautiful they are, no matter what size, color, shape and where they’ve come from. They all have this inner star power, that’s what we call it.”
Girls on the Run is an international program. It began in 1996 in North Carolina and came to Northeast Indiana in 2012. Since then donations have helped fund the program and purchased more than 300 running shoes to help local girls stay in stride.
Girls on the Run will have an information booth set up Friday, September 29 at the Fort 4 Fitness expo. Some of the girls will participate in the Fort 4 Fitness race September 30th. Group members are looking for “sole mates” to run with them in the October Rat Race. For more about Girls on the Run go to the group’s website.