In May 2023, a report titled “Physical Activity: An Untapped Resource to Address Our Nation’s Mental Health Crisis Among Children and Adolescents”, was jointly published by the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and the U.S. Public Health Service. This report highlights the strong link between the physical and mental well-being of young people in our country. It states, “Physical activity is a critical but often overlooked tool to support both the physical and mental health of children and adolescents aged 6-17 years” (Murthy 1).
Collaborations between public health experts and organizations that directly engage with youth, such as schools, community centers, and churches are proven to be one of the most effective ways to enhance young people's opportunities for meaningful physical activity. Many of these partnerships aim to create a higher level of accessibility to physical exercise, during and outside school hours.
Recognized as a commendable initiative by the nation's foremost health authority, Girls on the Run was cited as a premier program dedicated to eliminating obstacles for disadvantaged groups of youth seeking important physical engagement. Murthy highlights, “girls who were the least active when they started the program increased their overall physical activity by >40%, from completing ≥60 minutes of physical activity 3.0 days per week prior to participation to 4.4 days per week after participation”(Murthy 3). These effects were proven to be long-lasting and sustainable.
The full report, “Physical Activity: An Untapped Resource to Address Our Nation’s Mental Health Crisis Among Children and Adolescents”, emphasized how Girls on the Run effectively boosted participants' overall physical activity levels and nurtured essential life skills, such as conflict resolution, self-esteem, as well as mindful decision-making. The impact of the program on young girls was notable as, “97% of girls said that they learned critical life skills, including resolving conflict, helping others, or making intentional decisions, and 85% reported improvements in confidence, caring, competence, character development, or connection to others”(Murthy 3). Girls on the Run is an embodiment of the power that lies in connecting physical health to mental health. Our program builds bolder, braver, and better-equipped girls.