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Girls on the Run: More than Running

By Wendy Sweeter

Girls on the Run gets girls running, but it also helps them build relationships and express themselves.

Twenty Tea Area third and fourth grade girls started Girls on the Run in March. They meet twice a week to practice running and learn about expressing emotions and building self-esteem.

First time coach Amy Smolik said the girls have been setting goals of how many laps they will run at each practice, but they have also been learning how to express themselves positively.

“Every lesson builds on the one before it with the end goal of trying to give the girls tools to help them express themselves to help them think positively, to have inner positive self-esteem,” Smolik said. “The end goal of running is you get to accomplish a goal that some might’ve thought is super hard at the beginning.”

EmBe facilitates the Girls on the Run program in South Dakota, as well as some counties in northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota. Allison Sinning is the program coordinator. This year they have more than 950 girls in third through fifth grade participating in the program throughout the region.

During the 10-week program, girls learn from 20 lessons to build confidence. They also learn to connect with other girls to show empathy, how they choose their friends, talk about resolving conflicts and building relationships.

“The last part of our season is celebrating their strengths and the things that they’ve learned. They all run a practice 5k to get ready for the end of the year 5k. They also do a small community service project,” Sinning said.

Tea Area fourth-graders Kerslyn Rand and Sydney Stahlecker are both in their second year in Girls on the Run. Rand has learned to keep trying and to do your best. She said the lessons make it easier to communicate.

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