Ballentine Elementary was recently awarded a grant to fund the “Girls on The Run International” mentoring program. School nurse, Liz Newlin, said, “we’ve been working on getting this grant for over two years. This program allows these girls an opportunity not only to exercise, but to learn about nutrition, body image, and many other issues that young girls contend with.”
Founded by Charlotte, NC native, and four-time Ironman tri athlete, Molly Barker, “Girls on the Run International” has been in existence since 1996. Their mission statement is: “To educate and prepare girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living.”
The program has two phases, starting with elementary aged girls from 3rd to 5th grade and a “Girls on the Track” program for middle school aged participants. At each session, the group forms a “friendship circle” for discussion time, participate in some warm up games, and then they take to the track where they train in preparation for a 5K race event. Girls on the Run 5K races take place throughout the country throughout the year.
Newlin explains how the program works at Ballentine. “The girls meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the group is facilitated by staff members, and our counselor is on hand as well. Members of The FV Junior Women’s Club also come out to run with the girls.”
Along with discussions about self esteem and balanced eating habits, topics about virtues such as being honest, working as a team, and being encouraging to one another are also part of the Girls on the Run curriculum. Currently, Ballentine has 14 girls in the program and the grant will cover sessions throughout the fall of 09 and in the spring and fall of 2010.