Girls on the Run is a life-changing program for girls in the 3rd
through 8th grade. Established as a non-profit, group's mission is
to "inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun,
experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running."
Individual groups meet for 10 weeks, twice a week, and have topic
based lessons and a workout. The program combines training for a 5k
(3.1 miles) running event with lessons that inspire girls to become
independent thinkers, enhance their problem solving skills and make
All of this is accomplished through an active collaboration with
girls and their parents, schools, volunteers, staff, and the
Executive Director Jennifer Sublett said the girls learn about
bullying, confidence, self-esteem and also do service projects. She
said they also do goal setting. At the 5k, the girls are recognized
for their accomplishments. It is about physical activity but used to
reinforce a healthy lifestyle.
Washington-Monroe was the first school in Lincoln to offer the
program and is completing their fifth season with Girls on the Run.
Amanda Vaini said, "I am proud to say that myself and Teresa Aeilts
have been coaches from the beginning. Our other coaches this year
are Abigail Stroik and Laura Aughenbaugh."
Vaini said, "It is a wonderful program; very empowering for girls!
Over the years, it has helped build confidence and self-esteem in
Vaini also said, "It has brought some girls that are shy out of
their shell and given them the opportunity to make new friends. It
has taught them to accept themselves for who they are and not to
change to please others."
Vaini said the program "deals a lot with peer pressure and how to
deal with their own emotions by giving them strategies and exercises
to use in their own lives. It teaches them to stand up for
themselves and others." She said the program also helps their
overall physical health, because they are training for a 5K.
Vaini said, " I have seen great improvement in their stamina since
we started the program almost 10 weeks ago. We have girls that start
the program in 3rd grade and continue to sign up in 4th and 5th
grade too! It is something they are proud of and feel like they are
really a part of something special!"
Heather Danley coaches a group at Northwest School. Danley said,
“The biggest change I have noticed this year with the program is the
girls are gaining more confidence. Rather than saying, ‘This is hard
or I can’t do this,’ I have been hearing more of ‘I will try
Danley said, “At a recent practice one of the girls was encouraging
everyone who would pass her. She didn’t get upset that she couldn’t
run as fast or as far as the other girls. Instead she would tell
them, ‘Good work, keep it up!’ She told me that ‘as long as you
believe, you will achieve your goals.’ I thought this was a very
powerful message. “
Danley also said, “Girls on the Run is making a tremendous impact on
the girls character and teaching them to respect and appreciate each
other. It’s helping to create friendships that may have never
existed outside of the program."
Danley said, "When the new girls joined this year, they expected the
program to be all about running. Although it does teach them the
importance of being healthy, it also teaches them valuable life
lessons on situations that they face daily."
Carroll Catholic just started the program this year. Coach Jennifer
Block said, "These girls are going to deal with or have already
dealt with issues such as gossiping, rumors, negative self talk,
peer pressure, and so on. I think if anything, the girls have
learned the necessary tools to make confident choices throughout
Block said, the girls "have been taught how to stand up for
themselves. The determination these girls have has inspired me and
the other coaches and I am looking forward to the celebratory 5K on
The girls from Carroll Catholic shared what they learned in the
program and what they enjoyed the most:
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Anna said, "It teaches [us] to be kind and not bully."
Adriana said, "I learned more about how to make friends."
Zoey said, "I learned you should not spread rumors."
Lilyan said, "It teaches us that everyone is unique."
Reece said, it is "good for girls, really fun, and teaches us a lot
Gianna said, "I like being friends, getting a chance to meet my
goal, and [preparing for a] 5k."
Tanishka said, "I get to do fun stuff, and learned about not being a
Blair said, "I enjoyed it because I learned more about being
Emma said, "I liked helping other people and doing community
projects, plus working on our [self] image."
Each group does a community project at the end of the year. The
girls from Washington-Monroe did a Relay Recess program at their
school to support the upcoming "Relay for Life" to fight cancer.
The girls from Northwest planted flowers and took them to the Hope
Grows Neighborhood Center.
The girls from Carroll Catholic planted flowers and picked up
trash around the school grounds.
At year's end, all the chapters also participated in a "Born to Run
5k" in Springfield on Saturday, May 14, 2016.
Girls on the Run has helped many girls to become more self-confident
and healthy while teaching them lifelong lessons.