We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.
Girls on the Run® is a life-changing, experiential learning program for girls age eight to thirteen years old. The programs combine training for a 3.1 mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. The goals of the programs are to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development.
The objective of Girls on the Run is to educate and empower girls at an early age in order to prevent the display of at-risk activities in the future. At risk activities include substance/alcohol use, eating disorders, early onset of sexual activity, sedentary lifestyle, depression, suicide attempts and confrontations with the juvenile justice system.
Girls on the Run® is a 501(c)3 positive youth development program which combines an interactive curriculum and running to inspire self-respect and healthy lifestyles in pre-teen girls. Our core curriculum addresses many aspects of girls’ development – their physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. Lessons provide girls with the tools to make positive decisions and to avoid risky adolescent behaviors.
We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.
Our Core Values
Girls on the Run honors its core values. We strive to:
- Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making.
- Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness.
- Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions.
- Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health.
- Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent.
- Stand up for ourselves and others.
Girls on the Run delivers our message to young girls through volunteer coaches and mentors. Our 10 to 12-week character building program of experiential learning through running teaches very specific and well-defined social and personal skills. The program culminates in a non-competitive 5K run event which gives the girls a chance to shine and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
The curriculum encompasses the following 3 concepts:
- Weeks 1-4: All About Me…Getting to Know Who I am and What I Stand For!
- Weeks 5-8: Building My Team…Understanding the Importance of Cooperation
- Weeks 9-12: Community Begins with Me…Learning About Community and Designing Our Own Community Project
Girls on the Run programs are based on activities that function specifically to enhance the learning process. Each meeting is structured as follows:
- The session begins with a getting-on-board and a warm-up activity that bring the girls’ focus onto the day’s topic.
- The warm-up is followed by a stretching routine that allows for a topic-related question and answer time.
- Then, during the workout period, the girls participate in a variety of running activities that utilize a game or a team goal.
- Afterwards, cool-down stretching is combined a review and discussion of the day’s lesson that encourages participant questions.
- Each session closes with positive words from the girls’ coach regarding individual and group behaviors.
Girls on the Run promotes physical as well as emotional, mental and character development. The girls complete the program with a stronger sense of identity, a greater acceptance of themselves, a healthier body image and an understanding of what it means to be part of a team. The participants are tested at the beginning and at the completion of the program to measure these attitudinal changes. This evaluation, executed by Rita DeBate, Ph.D., MPH, CHES with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, showed statistically significant improvements in the girls self-esteem, body size satisfaction, and eating attitudes/behaviors.
Girls On Track
Girls on the Run is the name of our organization, but we have two programs:
- Girls on the Run — for 3rd-5th graders
- Girls on Track — for 6th-8th graders
The Girls on the Run curriculum has been in use since the fall of 1996. Since that time thousands of girls have been through the program-but what we soon discovered is, they were having so much fun and getting so connected, they wanted something that would carry them through middle school. We originally wanted to call it Girls on the Run for Middle Schoolers. The girls who were participating told us they wanted something they could call their own. Hence the birth of Girls on Track.
The principal philosophies and psychological research for both programs are the same yet the depth of processing the topics varies with the two different curricula. We can go into more targeted and age-appropriate discussion regarding certain topics (eating disorders, tobacco and alcohol use, personal/internet safety and harassment to name a few) with the middle school participants, whereas with the younger girls the discussion remains a bit more vague or may not occur at all.
In 2001, Girls on the Run International contracted with Rita DiGioacchino DeBate, Ph.D., MPH, CHES, to perform a formative impact evaluation. She performed the evaluation in 2002 and 2005. The evaluation assesses the Girls on the Run program and how well it meets stated objectives by using a pre-test/post-test that measures attitudes towards physical activity, self-esteem, eating attitudes, body image and communication. Dr. DeBate is an Associate Professor in the School of Community and Environmental Health at Old Dominion University.
Prior to running that pilot, Dr. DeBate’s review of the academic research in the area of girls and sports turned up two contradictory results. On the one hand, girls involved in athletics have higher self-esteem and engage in fewer risky behaviors than girls who are not. On the other hand, girls who become highly competitive in some sports (such as running, figure skating, gymnastics and other sports in which slim body images are admired) have a higher incidence of eating disorders than girls who are not involved in such sports. This poses a dilemma which – after running our evaluation – Dr. DeBate believes the Girls on the Run curricula may solve.
Through the evaluations, Dr. DeBate found that our curricula improve girls’ self-esteem, body size satisfaction, and physical activity behaviors to a statistically significant extent. Also noted are positive changes regarding attitudes towards physical activity, health behaviors, and empowerment.
- 2011 Academic Evaluation Results
- 2007 Academic Evaluation Results
- 2006 Academic Evaluation Results
- 2005 Academic Evaluation Results
- 2002 Academic Evaluation Results
Our Girls on the Run of the Rockies Local Survey Results:
If you would like to get a feel for the structure of the program sessions, please view this sample lesson.