Registration is now open for the Girls on the Run program. This is a 10-week after school program for sixth through eighth grade girls at Thunder Bay Junior High; third through fifth grades girls at Besser, Sanborn, Hinks and Ella White Elementary School; and third through sixth grade girls at Bingham Arts Academy.
The program is volunteer-based and is sponsored by Alpena Tri-County Area Zonta Club, Bay Athletic Club and District Health Dept. #4.
Grants from Communtiy Foundation of Northeast Michigan, Women's Giving Circle and First Federal Community Foundation have also made it possible to offer the program again this spring and expand to additional schools.
"The whole purpose behind this program is self-esteem and helping the girls structure a solid foundation. Our vision is that each girl will build their self-esteem and take away new strategies to help them at this time in their life," said Kim Schultz, who is both a Zonta and GOTR Advisory Council member.
Schultz and the rest of the program's organizers hope the program will help the participants sustain their self-esteem and provide them with new ideas to carry them through the rest of their educational career and life.
"As a Zonta member, this program aligns with Zonta's mission in improving the lives of women and children in our community," Schultz said. "With GOTR, our club now has a great way to make a connection in the
community and be a positive role model to these young girls that really need that in their lives."
GOTR combines physical training namely preparing for a 3.1 mile run/walk event with warm-ups, team building activities and workouts that focus on specific life-skills including: how to get along within a group, how to assert yourself in a healthy manner; how to stop a gossip chain; and how to combat the negative and unreachable images from the media.
"At these ages, girls start thinking 'I'm not skinny enough' or 'I don't wear the right clothes,'" said Sarah Oskey, Bay Athletic Club community relations coordinator and a GOTR coach. "We need to stop telling them to be something they're not and start celebrating how beautiful they are."
Studies show that around the age of 10 girls go to a place we call "the Girl Box." The Girl Box is where girls feel as if they are valued more for their appearance, their friends and what kind of clothes they wear as opposed to the strength of their character.
GOTR helps girls to develop the skills for handling these issues so that each girl stays out of the box.
"It's self-esteem with a fitness component," said Oskey. "We play fun games, discuss a pertinent topic and do a workout, such as running, jumping, skipping or hopping."
Sessions meet for 10 weeks, two days a week right after school starting the week of March 21. The program culminates in a non-competitive 5K event on June 4 which gives the girls a chance to shine and celebrate their accomplishments.
The registration deadline is March 17 and there is limited space available. A registration form can be picked up at the host schools, Bay Athletic Club or District Health Dept. #4.
Participants can also go to dhd4.org and download a copy.
If you would like to help with the program, sponsor a GOTR participant or want more information, call Cathy Goike at 358-7970.