Watch what these girls can do

Published 10:46 pm Thursday, December 17, 2009

It’s never been easy to be a girl.

Throughout history, societies have had higher expectations, stricter rules and firmer standards for girls than they have had for boys. At the same time, many cultures have thrown temptations and hurdles in the way of those same girls. The double-standard can be a backbreaker and all too often results in decisions with life-altering repercussions.

Any help that girls can get in navigating the dangerous waters of growing up in America is welcome, and a program embraced by a small group of girls at Hillpoint Elementary School is a great start.

“Girls on the Run” is an international organization that teacher Beth Brant decided last year to bring to Suffolk. Its purpose is to teach girls about self esteem and healthy lifestyles through running. Girls learn about peer pressure, relationships, body image and other tough concepts through their running, through team-building exercises, through workouts and through time spent together just talking.

This year, the girls also learned a little about community service, having decided as a group to make treats for animals at the shelter. “It feels good to help someone out every now and then,” one member told a reporter recently.

Taken on their own, organizations such as Girls on the Run are not likely to change the world. But every little step helps, and every intervention in the life of a young child has an effect later in life that is hard to measure but easy to distinguish.

Kudos to Hillpoint for hosting the group and to Beth Brant for sponsoring it. And best of wishes to the girls who have been involved with it. We think there’s reason to expect great things from them.