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More than 450 professional women from the Bay Area sipped and mingled as Diablo magazine hosted its annual Diablo women gala at the Pleasant Hill Community Center. The event raised more than $8000 for Girls on the Run of the Bay Area. View the event photos here.
View the article online HERE or the PDF HERE.
Girls who participate in physical activity, such as running, develop more than strong, healthy bodies. Research shows they also have better self-esteem, less depression and are happier with their bodies than their sedentary peers. In addition, female athletes are less likely to smoke, take drugs or engage in early sexual activity.
Girls on the Run — GOTR — is an international nonprofit organization with more than 200 chapters, or independent councils, dedicated to helping girls ages 8–13 reap the benefits of running. Based in San Francisco, the Bay Area chapter of GOTR was started in 2002. Along with San Francisco, it serves the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Mateo.
“We had five participants when we launched our first program in 2002,” said Brooke Kuhn, executive director of GOTR Bay Area. “Today, we work with over 1,700 girls a year and have 115 teams.”
Kuhn noted that the local GOTR chapter serves more girls from low-income backgrounds than any other chapter. More than 90% of Bay Area participants require financial assistance. To meet their needs, the organization offers full scholarships and sliding-scale rates. GOTR also provides running shoes for those who cannot afford them. In 2015, the Bay Area chapter will give away 360 pairs of shoes.
The Bay Area affiliate uses a curriculum developed by GOTR International to help girls train for a 5K while learning key life skills — such as speaking up for yourself, setting goals and teamwork. Held in the spring and fall, the 10-week programs include separate teams for third to fifth grades and sixth to eighth grades. Each GOTR team has 12–16 members and meets twice a week for training sessions led by volunteer coaches.
“We start with a lesson about something like building self-esteem or bullying,” explained Cindy Pham, a coach for the Hillcrest Elementary GOTR team in San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood. “While the girls are running, we touch base with them and ask them questions related to the lesson topic.”
An example is “take a breather” strategy. The girls learn to stop, breathe, think and review if they get tired while they’re running.
“One girl came up to me and said that the lesson was very helpful to her because she could see using it in other parts of her life, like school or home,” said Pham. “It was a great moment for me as a coach.”
Pham added that she appreciates the training and support coaches receive from GOTR, such as weekly newsletters with tips for upcoming lessons and videos of activities to do with their teams. She also likes the option of participants having a choice when it comes to how they complete their 5K event.
“You don’t have to run,” Pham said. “You can walk, skip, or do whatever works for your level. There’s no pressure. You just learn, have fun and be active.”
Many GOTR participants — such as Karla Carranza, a third-grader on Pham’s team — enjoy the program so much, they do it more than once.
“I like running and meeting more people,” Carranza remarked. “I also like learning how to keep negative stuff inside and how to stay positive.”
As more schools cut or eliminate P.E. classes, and childhood obesity and diabetes are on the rise, programs like GOTR provide an important service for their communities.
According to Kuhn, a recent study conducted in the five Bay Area counties served by GOTR showed that only 28 percent of girls get the amount of exercise recommended by the Centers for Disease Control — CDC — compared to 48 percent of boys.
“There’s a real need for a program like ours,” stated Kuhn. “We feel that if girls are going to be leaders as adults, they need to be healthy.”
About half of the funding for GOTR comes from individual contributions. Another 25 percent comes from foundations, while program fees cover an additional 20 percent of expenses. Donations from numerous corporations, including Sports Basement and Athleta, supply the remaining funds.
In addition to volunteer coaches, GOTR also relies on volunteer running buddies — both male and female — to accompany one or two girls during their 5K. Buddies encourage their partners to keep going and achieve their goal of crossing the finish line.
“We work with nearly 1,000 volunteers each year,” said Kuhn. “We couldn’t do this without their help.”
GOTR is seeking running buddies for its spring 5K happening on Saturday, May 9, in Golden Gate Park. To learn more about volunteering for the event, or about GOTR, go to www.gotrbayarea.org/.
This month's fundraising event, The Sweat Challenge, was featured on fitnessmomwinecountry
Check out our segment - Brooke and Natalie interviewed on Bay Area Focus.
A teacher and GOTR Coach at Immaculate Heart of Mary school, Jennifer Hoggett, writes about the influence of Girls on the Run on her students and school. Read the article HERE.
Sophia, Katie, and Chloe say they enjoy their track practice. These kids, along with 14 other girls in the third- through fifth-grade at Woodside Elementary School, spend their Monday and Wednesday afternoons learning about life through a program that involves running and confidence-building. Read the article HERE
On April 9, 2008, 80 people were scheduled carry the Olympic torch through San Francisco, the only North American city to host the relay. The SF Chronicle announced the Olympic Torch bearers, including our Executive Director, Susan Roberts. Read her winning essay HERE.