Girls at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County’s Goshen Clubhouse are spending two afternoons a week getting ready for a spring 5K run.
They’re taking part in a program called “Girls On The Run.” It’s designed to inspire girls of all abilities to recognize their individual strengths while building a sense of connection in a team setting.
Volunteer coaches facilitate lessons that blend physical activity with life skill development to enable girls to adapt to whatever comes their way. At the end of the season, the team completes a 5K together, which provides a tangible sense of accomplishment and sets a confident mindset into motion.
“There’s a lesson every day. We incorporate that into our activities for the day,” said coach Julia Fisher.
At a recent practice, the girls learned how to avoid negative self-talk. They talked about inner voices where girls tell themselves why they can’t do something.
“When we find ourselves thinking those things, we need to stop and turn it into something positive we think about ourselves,” Fisher said.
Fisher is pleased that a few girls who’ve been part of the program in the past are back this year. Those girls are helping encourage the new members.
“They’re running a 5k at the end. It’s tough, but we’re creating bonds between now and then so they will encourage themselves and each other,” she said.
Club member Sarah said she was excited to return for a new season.
“You get to run, and you meet new people. I really loved the 5k. It helps your energy, your heart and your lungs and it creates sportsmanship,” she said.
Area Director Natalie Jerlecki agrees.
“It’s a wonderful program that’s very empowering because they just don’t focus on running. They focus on positive attributes about themselves,” she said.
Fisher said when they finish the 5K run, they are not the same girls they were at the start.
“I think it makes them stronger. They know they can do something like this that maybe they never thought about before.”