Why Girls Should Run
Juliette, a ten year old girl from Sherman Oaks, had never enjoyed any kind of physical activity. When she heard about an after school program, Girls on the Run, that combined running with other activities, she decided to give it a try. Thanks to Girls on the Run, Juliette became physically active twice a week, made new friends, and learned valuable new lessons. Juliette also bonded with her volunteer coaches who became role models for how to live healthy, fulfilling lives. She enjoyed it so much, Juliette is participating in the program again - and will be more likely to incorporate exercise into her daily routine as she grows older.
This is the second year of celebrating the International Day of the Girl. Here in the U.S., there is much to celebrate about the success of young women in our society. Nationally, over 50% of college graduates are women, a huge achievement over 40 years after Title IX required schools at all levels to offer equal opportunities based on sex.
However, young women face a unique set of issues on their road to adulthood, including peer pressure, media outlets which promote unrealistic body images, and few role models of how to maintain a healthy body along with a healthy mind. The heartbreaking story of Rebecca Ann Sedwick, age 12, who committed suicide after repeated episodes of cyber-bullying, underscores the harsh terrain that girls must navigate as they mature into young women.
Crucial to this endeavor is exercise. Studies have shown that girls who play sports in high school make 7-8% higher wages later in life, and females most physically active during youth are 20% less prone to breast cancer as adults. Yet if a girl does not participate in sports by the age of 10, there is only a 10% likelihood she will be participating at age 25.
Girls on the Run of Los Angeles County (GOTRLA), a nonprofit organization, aims to disrupt the usual paradigm. Their program uses running to empower girls ages 8-13 and change the way they see themselves and their opportunities. The 12-week curriculum combines training for a 5K event with interactive lessons that encourage positive social, emotional, mental and physical development, covering topics such as healthy eating, positive body image, combatting bullying, and community service. At the culmination of each season, participants join hundreds of other Girls on the Run in a 5K event. Running, skipping and walking across the finish line teaches them they can accomplish whatever they set out to do.
Since starting the Los Angeles chapter in 2008, GOTRLA has grown to serve 34 schools and over 800 girls annually, with over 300 volunteers. They are serving 15 new schools this year.
A 2011 study confirmed that Girls on the Run participants had a significantly higher commitment to physical activity, higher physical activity levels, and healthier body images than those who had not participated in the program - and those levels remained higher even after the program ended.
Actions You Can Take for a Young Girl's Development!
So encourage your daughters to go running. Enroll them in Girls on the Run. Sign the family up for a 5K. Join GOTRLA at the Fall season “Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic 5K” on Sunday, December 8th in Studio City. The result - making the seemingly impossible, possible, and teaching girls that they can.
Girls on the Run of Los Angeles County and Disney Channel’s Peyton List
Address National Anti-Bullying Month
Every girl is strong, powerful and beautiful! That’s a core belief of Girls on the Run, which provides a 12-week after-school program to empower girls ages 8-14, and it’s one of the values the program instills in its participants.
Unfortunately, many girls struggle to believe that they are strong, powerful and beautiful—and it can be especially hard for those who are the targets of bullying in school. That’s why the Girls on the Run curriculum includes an anti-bullying lesson, “Beware of Bullies!”
Teen actress Peyton List (Jessie) speaks out.
October is National Anti-Bullying Month, and teen actress Peyton List (Jessie) shared some thoughts about her support of Girls on the Run and her own experience with bullying.
On Jessie, your character, Emma, encounters bullying at school. Was that storyline especially important to you and why?
Emma gets bullied in school by a girl named Brynn who turns friends against her. This storyline was especially important to me because I feel like every girl encounters a mean person/ bully in her life, whether it’s cyber bullying, a mean person in school, or a kid at the playground.
Have you experienced bullying in real life?
I’ve been bullied in real life. A lot of it started once I started becoming successful in my acting career. I texted my friend about how excited I was that I had booked the Diary of A Wimpy Kid movies, and she texted me back, 'Who cares?’ After that, she became my biggest hater on Facebook. I was so hurt that my best friend could do this to me.
You’re a supporter and guest coach for Girls on the Run. How did you get involved, and why is the program important to you?
I got involved with Girls on the Run through a woman who works on the set of Jessie. She gave me a T-shirt with the Girls on the Run message, and I instantly said, “This is where I want to volunteer.”
What is the most important thing you hope girls learn about themselves during their time in Girls on the Run?
Embrace what’s unique about you, and share it with the world!
What would you want to say to girls who are being bullied in school?
I want to tell them to stand up to their bullies. I wish I had. The thing is, you don’t want to stoop to their level. For example, if they push you, don’t push them back—get an adult you can trust.
Girls On The Run Gets Results
Girls on the Run is a transformational program for pre-adolescent girls that encourages positive emotional, social, mental and physical development. Life skills are taught through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running games. The goal is to increase confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime of healthy living and self-respect.
Program evaluation results from the 12-week Spring 2012 program show the successes of this program:
– Girls engaged in healthier nutritional practices, consuming fruits and vegetables more often and drinking less sodas.
– Girls increased their daily physical activity.
– Girls significantly increased their feelings of confidence.
– Girls reported higher levels of self-worth and self-esteem.
– Girls felt significantly better about their body image.
For more Program Evaluation results, click here.