by Tina Johansson
The mission statement for Girls on the Run athletic program in Waukegan is “We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”
Well, according to coaches, the girls do have fun, and are learning the importance of physical activity at the same time.
The Waukegan program, an off-shoot of Chicago Girls on the Run, gears up March 8 and goes to May 26. Girls ages ages 8-12 will have an opportunity to build new social relationships, develop confidence in their physical abilities and increase physical fitness through an exceptional running program called Girls on the Run. The program is held at the Field House Sports and Fitness Center on Grand Avenue in Waukegan.
Highly structured, the program and curriculum which has already served more than 168,000 teenage girls throughout the nation, provides girls with a positive, encouraging and fun environment that offers physical challenges and supports healthy choices.
Girls on the Run is led by experienced coaches, including Waukegan alderman Lisa May, Tracy Sompolski and Monica Vervilos; all have worked with the program in the past. Coaches create a positive and encouraging environment that strengthens girls’ confidence and supports their health while having fun.
May is the returning head coach for the Girls on the Run program. “I’m looking forward to another season with Girls on the Run. Our number one goal is to have fun and make new friends while training for a spectacular 5K race that we’ll run with other GOTR teams at end of the program,” she said.
“Over the course of the program, our girls will participate in activities that will help them embrace their individuality, learn skills to navigate life’s experiences and encourage them to build healthy relationships through teamwork. The physical component is suited to every girl, regardless of their athletic ability. We train together as a team in a very supportive and non-competitive environment while encouraging improvement and growth. No one gets held back and no one gets left behind,” said May. “Coaching GOTR has been a rewarding experience and I can’t wait to start a new season! I look forward to seeing new friendships grow and watching these girls become empowered while achieving new goal.”
The Girls on the Run program can best be described via their opening message from the Girls on the Run webpage, www.girlsontherun.org/Who-We-Are:
Meeting twice a week in small teams of 8-20 girls, participants are learn life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. The 24-lesson curriculum is taught by certified Girls on the Run coaches and includes three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large.
Running is used to inspire and motivate girls, encourage lifelong health and fitness, and build confidence through accomplishment. Important social, psychological, and physical skills and abilities are developed and reinforced throughout the program. At each season’s conclusion, the girls and their running buddies complete a 5k running event which gives them a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals-the result-making the seemingly impossible, possible, and teaching girls that they can.
For more information about the Waukegan Park District Girls on the Run Program, please call 847-360-4706. ++4Visit the Waukegan Park District at www.waukeganparks.org .