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Girls on the Run

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Title: Girls on the Run  
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Subject: Physical exercise, Umbrella organization, Gamma Phi Beta, Charlotte Country Day School, VAP (company), East Tennessee Children's Hospital, Exercise trends
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Girls on the Run

For the poem, see Girls on the Run (poem).
For the 1958 movie, see Girl on the Run.
Girls on the Run
"Adelaide" is the symbol of Girls on the Run.
Formation 1996
Type social services
Legal status Non-profit corporation umbrella, with separate non-profit chapters
Purpose/focus well-being of preteen girls
Headquarters Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A.
Region served United States, Canada
President Liz Kunz
Main organ Board of Directors
Website (International)

Girls on the Run is a North American non-profit program that works to encourage pre-teen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games, culminating in the girls' being physically and emotionally prepared to participate in a celebratory 5k race. The organization’s curricula seek to address all aspects of the girls’ development to enhance their physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual well-being while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.

Local chapters operate under an umbrella organization, Girls on the Run International, which develops curricula and provides support to the local councils (chapters) while encouraging the formation of additional councils in areas not yet served by the program.


The organization's mission is: “We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” Girls on the Run has a vision that states: “We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.”.[3]


Girls on the Run was established in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Program founder Mary W. ("Molly") Barker (featured in the movie "Apple Pie"[2]) struggled in her own life, including a bout with alcoholism, and came to the realization that a running program gave her "respect for my body and all the things it can do."[3] She founded Girls on the Run with an initial group of 13 girls. The next season, there were 26, and the season after that, 75. In 2000, Girls on the Run International was recognized as a non-profit charitable organization.[4][5] The program has grown to serve more than 60,000 girls a year, and nearly one million in its history.[3]


Girls on the Run operates two programs for its participants. “Girls on the Run” is for 3rd–5th graders (approximately 8 through 10 years old). “Girls on Track” is directed to 6th–8th graders (11 through 13 years old). [6]

Meeting twice a week in small teams of 8-20 girls, the program teaches life skills through fun, engaging lessons that celebrate the joy of movement. The 24-lesson curriculum is taught by certified coaches and includes three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork, and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large. Over the course of the program, participants develop and improve competence, feel confidence in who they are, develop strength of character, respond to others and themselves with care and compassion, create positive connections with peers and adults, and make a meaningful contribution to community and society.[7]

Girls on the Run

Over a period of 10-12 weeks, girls in the 3rd through 5th grade participate in an after-school program like no other. Designed to allow every girl to recognize her inner strength, the Girls on the Run curriculum inspires girls to define their lives on their own terms. Throughout the season, the girls make new friends, build their confidence and celebrate all that makes them unique.

The Girls on the Run lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development. Participants explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at this age. They also develop important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences. It starts with helping the girls get a better understanding of who they are and what’s important to them. Then, the girls look at the importance of team work and healthy relationships. And, finally, the girls explore how they can positively connect with and shape the world. [4]

Physical activity is woven into the program to inspire an appreciation of fitness and to build habits that lead to a lifetime of health. At the end of each three month session, the girls participate in a Girls on the Run 5k event. This celebratory, non-competitive event is the culminating experience of the curriculum. Completing the 5k gives the girls a tangible understanding of the confidence that comes through accomplishment as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals. Crossing the finish line is a defining moment when the girls realize that even the seemingly impossible IS possible. [5]

Girls on Track

Today's middle-school girls face many challenges and obstacles that can affect their emotional and physical well-being. The Girls on Track curriculum is designed to address these challenges by empowering them to make thoughtful and healthy decisions. Like Girls on the Run, the Girls on Track curriculum is delivered over the course of 10 to 12 weeks and addresses the societal, mental and emotional challenges particular to their age.

Like the Girls on the Run curricula, Girls on Track begins by encouraging the girls to examine and better understand who they are and what's important to them. Once they have a deeper awareness of their individual values, they look at the role of teams and healthy relationships. Lastly, the girls explore how they can positively connect with and shape the world.

The curriculum allows for more mature processing around certain topics including eating disorders, internet safety, relationships, cyber-bullying and tobacco and alcohol use. The girls discuss these subjects on an in-depth level and use their personal experiences to shape thought-provoking discussion. The Girls on Track curriculum provides girls with the skills to shut out the noise of the external world that is attempting to limit who she is and to instead listen to her individual truth – the one that will lead her toward an enriching and contented life.

Running is also incorporated into the curriculum. Girls on Track use physical activity to inspire and motivate girls throughout the program, to encourage lifelong health and fitness, and most importantly, to build confidence through accomplishment. At the end of each season, the girls and their running buddies complete a 5k running event which gives the girls a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals. This culminating celebratory 5k event is a transformative moment when the girls realize that even the seemingly impossible IS possible. [6]


External links

  • Girls on the Run International
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