Teaching girls to value themselves while handling peer pressure, gossip, bullies and issues with body image and nutrition is what Girls on The Run Rhode Island is all about.
And it’s done while training to run a 5K race – a little more than 3 miles.
A Barrington chapter of the 10-week non-profit program is being formed for girls in grades three through five, said Kathy Crain of Barrington, the executive director of Girls on the Run RI.
It starts March 11 at Studio 47 of Barrington Pilates on Maple Avenue. That’s the spring program. There will be a fall program as well.
Girls on the Run Barrington will use the same 20-lesson curriculum used by other chapters of the program in Rhode Island and across the country to prepare girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living.
“We meet two times a week for 10 weeks,” said Crain. “Girls will learn through lessons on relevant topics and games that empower girls to find their own strengths and inner voices. They will learn what’s right for them.”
The girls also will benefit from being part of a team, said Jennifer Sullivan, a coach for Girls on the Run.
“You don’t have to be an athlete,” Sullivan said. “You just have to enjoy physical fitness.”
The girls will run for part of each class, probably on the East Bay Bike Path. But they might simply run around a room as well to complete a lesson.
"We just want girls to say when they cross that finish line that ‘I made it,’” Crain said.
“Do you know that most girls peak in self-confidence by age 9?" she said. "Then it’s downhill after that.”
Unless, of course, there is some support from teachers and family and coaches to help girls learn all about independent thinking and making the right decisions and relying on themselves.
Crain herself was a runner on the track team at Brown University. Sullivan still plays soccer on Sunday mornings. They both believe running all by itself can provide a calming experience while building self-worth.
“It’s just you and your own body and mind,” Crain said. “But you can run as part of a team as well.”
Crain actually has four sons; Sullivan has a teenage daughter. But both recognize the value of this type of after-school program that can help to change girls’ perspectives one girl a time.
You can register online by clicking here or by calling Crain at 401-787-3678. Each program takes about 15 girls.
See the video of the first-ever 5K run in Rhode Island above.