Girls on the Run

Published 8:00 pm Saturday, December 11, 2010

Students from Creekside Elementary School who participate in the Girls on the Run program recently participated in the 5K Jingle Bell Run in Norfolk. At top, the girls cross the finish line.

Students participate in Jingle Bell Run

By Heather McGinley

Staff Writer

Last Saturday, 15 girls from Creekside Elementary School crossed the finish line of the 5K Jingle Bell Run in Norfolk, applying the lesson “Finish what you start.”

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The Creekside Elementary School Girls On The Run group, led by Stephanie Potter and five other coaches, began training for the 3.1-mile run in September. The group meets twice a week to learn proper stretching and running techniques, as well as life lessons.

Girls on the Run is a national organization that encourages increased self-esteem and positive social, emotional, mental, spiritual and physical development in girls ages 8 through 13.

“It focuses on having a positive self-image and how to get along with other girls,” Potter said. “There is a real need for that.”

At Creekside Elementary, the 12-week program is offered twice a year and culminates with a race and celebration.

In addition to running, the girls participate in team-building activities and complete community service projects. This year, the Creekside Elementary team made “Cheer Cards” for patients receiving dialysis and chemotherapy this year.

The coaches mentor and teach their runners through modeling appropriate behaviors, encouraging positive interactions among the girls and teaching with the Girls on the Run national curriculum.

Potter first became interested in the program when she read about the founder of the national program in a runners’ magazine. A mother herself, Potter looks for programs that help young girls see their own value and inner beauty.

Luckily, Potter found the support she needed to begin the program at Creekside Elementary.

“I had support from my boss and administration to see what it’s all about,” Potter said.

Creekside Elementary has had the program for five years. Parents have expressed gratitude for their daughters’ increased confidence, positive social skills and healthy lifestyle choices, Potter added.