Girls on the Run is a great program that helps you get out of your shell. When I joined GOTR two years ago, I made new friends that were older and younger than me. I learned that I was part of a group of girls that were experiencing the same changes I was experiencing. The older girls had already gone through what I was going through, and the younger girls looked to me to explain what I was going through in the moment. We were all able to relate to each other. Being a girl in today’s world is not easy. Thankfully, there is a club like GOTR that has taught me and many other girls, the importance of speaking up for yourself and others, that your inside is way more valuable than your outside, and that when you run, you run at your own pace. I am so happy to have joined GOTR.
At first, I thought that it was going to be just an after school club, but it became so much more than that. The coaches work to help you make your inside strong enough to carry you to the finish line of a 5k race. My GOTR coached helped me realize that all girls go through the same things and that if we are kinder to each other, we can learn from the experiences that we share. This taught me that I was not alone and that I was not different from anyone else. It helped me get the courage to participate during the GOTR discussions. It helped me to open up and not be scared to share my thoughts and feelings.
GOTR has really helped me learn how to deal with self-image, bullying, and how girls sometimes try to be perfect even though no one ever really is. During one of the body image topics, we discussed how television and movies want girls to believe that beauty is on the outside. We looked at magazines of pretty girls that I used to want to look like. But when we saw how the pictures were photo shopped I realized that I wanted to look like someone that did not even exist! Even the pretty models wanted to look like the girls in the picture! I am so thankful for that discussion, because it helped me realize that everyone is beautiful in their own way and that no one should tell us what beautiful should look like. I remember being in third grade and already knowing that beauty is about how you feel about yourself and how you make others feel about themselves.
It is great to be part of a group where girls take care of each other and root for each other instead of competing, gossiping, or putting each other down. I will never forget that during my first year with GOTR, I was always the last one to finish going around my school. In the beginning, I felt embarrassed because I thought that the girls were frustrated that they always had to wait for me to finish.
One day, I was, once again, the slowest to finish. I had to go one more time around the school, and I did not think that I could do it. Everyone else had finished and were just waiting for me to complete my last lap. But, thankfully, right when I thought I did not have what it took to finish, two twin sisters, Julia and Claudia, started running with me. I was in the middle. They ran the entire last lap with me. They coached me to not give up and they kept telling me that they were right there with me. As we turned the corner, all the girls started chanting my name and then Julia’s and Claudia’s name. When I crossed the line, you would have thought that I had won a race! They were all high fiving me and congratulating me. I felt the girl power that GOTR stands for. It is true that we’re all running at our own pace, but we are also running one run. It’s a team. When we all finish, the team finished.
This will be my last year with GOTR. It is now my turn to be a role model. It is my turn to encourage others. If there is ever one girl who might not make it to the last lap, I want her to know that I will be right there running the last lap with her. More than 160,000 kids stay home from school every day to avoid being bullied. At GOTR, I learned the, “I feel ______ when you ________ because________. I would like for you ______” statement. I learned that it is okay to stand up for myself and others. Girls aren’t supposed to be quiet and easygoing all the time. We have to stand up for ourselves and our friends when we are not being treated right. We have to be able to express ourselves and not avoid a problem that can be fixed by talking about it. One of the greatest lessons I learned was not to become your own worst bully! I learned that beauty comes from within. Beauty is not your hairstyle, make up, or clothes. Beauty is about kindness and the love that you have for yourself and others. GOTR taught me that every girl will go or has gone through all the same things and that I should not be hard on myself.
My coaches have taught me to think of my “Happy Pace” when I am running. The Happy Pace is your Happy Place. This is a good method to use if you feel so exhausted that you think that you might quit. I like to use this method to imagine that I am running towards my happiest destination. It helps me to enjoy running more. You can also use this method in any situation, not just running. You can find happiness in any situation. I learned that if I focus on the positive, that I can overcome any obstacle.
Girls on the Run has made a really big impact on my life. The club has made me realize things that I never knew before. I thought that GOTR was going to be just about running and learning about eating healthy, but it has been so much more than that. The first time I finished the 5k run, I felt extraordinary. I had never run for such a long time. I learned that nothing is impossible. I learned that as long as you build yourself strong in the inside, that you will always be strong on the outside. I will remember the methods, keep my friendships, and always believe in GIRL POWER!