Posted by Ryan Morgan on January 29, 2014 at 1:07 AM
Tell Them‘s January social media campaign asks organizations, programs, and businesses in South Carolina, “What are you doing in 2014 to encourage healthier youth in SC?”
By Alek Dolge, BSW Intern, Girls on the Run of Columbia
At the beginning of each new season, the desks in the Girls on the Run
(GOTR) office overflow with scholarship applications
from girls who need financial help to participate. Their reasons for wanting to join GOTR highlight the challenges that young girls face in today’s society, but also demonstrate the optimism and resiliency of our community’s youth. We particularly enjoy reading applications from returning participants who already know that GOTR is much more than a running program. One girl explained that she planned to join the team again to “learn even more about me and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.” Another told us, “to me, running is passion and courage.”
The central belief of GOTR is that every girl can embrace who she is, can define who she wants to be, can rise to any challenge and can change the world. The season starts with an emphasis on self-awareness and self-care. Each girl is given a safe place to sparkle and realize just how special she is. Our volunteer coaches share countless stories of girls learning to value their own self-worth, such as the team member who proudly stated, “I am beautiful and strong and that’s the way I am.”
After focusing on themselves as individuals, the girls explore the importance of healthy relationships. They develop their ability to respect and cooperate with people who are different than themselves through fun games and teambuilding exercises. Toward the end of the season, the focus turns to community involvement. By implementing a community impact project of their choosing, the girls exercise their power to make a difference in the world around them.
The skill set learned here at GOTR cultivates emotional, mental, social and physical development. At the end of the season, the volunteer coaches ask their teams to reflect on what they have learned. The answers they receive demonstrate the wonderful insight of the girls: “I have learned life lessons. How to serve others. How to stay healthy!” “I learned what to do when I’m sad or mad or any other unconfterble [sic] feelings”.