“Girls on the Run, so much fun! – Girls on the Run, so much fun! – GIRLS ON THE RUN, SO MUCH FUN!”
The chanting comes from dozens of young girls, sprinting around the neighborhoods of Creekside and Sacramento and around the grounds of Walt Whitman Middle School.
The girls come from a wide range of ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Some are as young as 9-years old, while others are in middle-school. Many of them did not know each other very well before. But all of them are thoroughly enjoying themselves, now!
These are just a few of United Community’s clients participating in “Girls on the Run” -- a nationwide program that inspires girls to recognize their inner strength through physical activity, dynamic discussions, and team-building.
Building Relationships through Coaching at Sacramento
Cat is one of a few coaches working with girls at the Sacramento Neighborhood Center. An Ohio-born Navy service-member, Cat wanted to find a way to get involved in her new community after she was stationed in the area. The new Girls on the Run program at the Sacramento Center was the perfect avenue.
“I remember doing Girls on the Run as a little kid, growing up in Ohio,” Cat recalls. “It’s been great to work with these girls and not only encourage them to be active, but also help them learn valuable life lessons.”
The 10-week program focuses on activities and exercises that help girls learn and develop “the five C’s – Confidence, Character, Care, Connections, Physical, Social and Emotional Competence, and Contributions to the Community.
“It’s been such a special experience to watch these girls grow,” Cat added. “After the program is done, I want to keep volunteering at the center so I can help them continue their progress.”
Learning to Be Yourself in Middle School
“Sarah has blossomed since starting the Girls on the Run program,” her mentor shared. “By her third session, she was smiling, participating and accepting hugs from everyone!”
“I almost hit a girl today, but I didn’t,” she shares, smiling.
“Girls on the Run gives girls an opportunity to be themselves,” explained Delia Montecinos, Community Schools Coordinator at Walt Whitman. “It gives them a safe space where they can articulate their feelings, build each other up, and work through any challenges they face.”
"Finishing Strong" at Creekside
Unlike the Sacramento and Whitman programs, a lot of these girls have been running together for several seasons.
“It’s a lot of fun,” one girl shares. “I’m not a fast runner, but I like running with my friends.”
“Our mantra is finish strong,” Ariel says. “It doesn’t matter how fast they run or how long it takes; as long as they finish strong.”
“I loved running with the other girls,” one runner shares. “I made a lot of great friends! I’ll definitely do this again next year!”