Girls keep running in Suffolk and beyond

Published 10:38 pm Friday, January 11, 2019

Girls on the Run Hampton Roads has received a $25,000 grant from the Rite Aid Foundation to help the organization expand its positive youth development outreach across the region.

Girls on the Run was founded in 1996 and now has local councils in every state, serving more than 1.6 million girls nationwide, according to the press release. Girls on the Run Hampton Roads is one of 22 councils to receive the Rite Aid Foundation KidsCents Regional Grant.

Ellen Carver, executive director of Girls on the Run Hampton Roads, said the grant was a “tremendous endorsement” by Rite Aid to reach out and work with even more health organizations in the region.

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“They really like the results of what we’re doing to prevent health disparities,” Carver said.

The program helps girls from third to eighth grades develop the skills they need to positively navigate life with an appreciation for health and fitness, according to the press release. The program culminates with a service project and a celebratory 5K run.

To celebrate the end of the fall session, Girls on the Run partnered with Obici Healthcare Foundation on Dec. 16 to hold the “Girls Got Grit” Camo 5K at Camp Arrowhead in Suffolk. It was the first time this semi-annual event was held in Suffolk.

More than 3,500 people came out for the event, including 2,273 registered runners, Carver said. More than a half-dozen Suffolk Public Schools had girls participate in the event, and Carver estimated that about 390 to 400 of the runners were from Suffolk, while others were visiting from surrounding cities.

It was also a windy, cold and wet day for the run, and the route was slick with plenty of mud, she said. But the girls persevered nonetheless.

“So much of what we teach is about turning a negative into a positive,” she said, especially in the face of adversity. “We teach girls to turn it into a positive. Instead of saying ‘It’s muddy or rainy out, I’m not going to do this,’ we teach them how to turn that into a positive, self-talk statement, which is a mantra we teach in the curriculum.”

The Hampton Roads organization is accepting girls for enrollment in its upcoming spring program, and more schools are signing up as well.

As of Thursday, Northern Shores Elementary, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, Nansemond Parkway Elementary, Mack Benn Jr. Elementary and Col. Fred Cherry Middle were registered for the spring program. Other schools that were tentatively on the list were Florence Bowser Elementary, Pioneer Elementary, John F. Kennedy Middle and Kilby Shores Elementary.

She said the goal for Girls on the Run Hampton Roads this year is to expand its reach further into Western Tidewater and beyond Suffolk, which will be possible thanks to greater interest from partners in the health care industry.

“That’s why we’re getting this great support out of these national brands like Rite Aid,” she said.

The application deadline for schools that want to host Girls on the Run this spring is Feb. 1, while the deadline for girls to enroll in the spring program at their school is Feb. 25, the same day that the spring program begins. Students may register for the spring program beginning on Feb. 4. It will run for 12 weeks and end with a 5K on May 19.

Visit or call 965-9040 for more information.