by Sophia D.
Who am I? I am a superstar and a rock star. I am amazing, powerful, and awesome. I am strong and healthy. I am beautiful, on the inside and out. I am a princess who can grow up to be anything in the world if I set my mind to it.
Girls on the Run taught me these important and inspiring words along with so much more. For me, Girls on the Run isn’t just an exercise group. It’s not just a way to have a reason to boast about running a 5k. Even though Girls on the Run improved me physically, it also supported me mentally and emotionally.
At my school, girls are eligible to sign up and attend our school’s Girls on the Run program. In the autumn and spring, our team of third grade girls would meet every Monday and Wednesday in Coach Nader’s room. We would have a quick and healthy snack, and then discuss our daily lesson.
Coach Nader always taught us important life lessons. These lessons would help us interact sociably with our friends, family, and peers. Take for example, the toothpaste lesson. Coach taught us that words and actions are like toothpaste. When you squeeze the tube of toothpaste, the toothpaste obviously squirts out. However, it is impossible to put the toothpaste back into the tube. This is just like what we say or do to other people. If we say or do something mean or cruel to a peer, we can never take that action or insult back, no matter how hard we try.
In Girls on the Run, we were taught how to keep ourselves and the earth healthy. We learned about the types and amounts of food we need to eat daily to have a healthy diet. We also learned about how much sleep we need every night, how much screen time we should have each day, and the amount of water in a day is a healthy amount. To keep the earth and our environment healthy, we need to clean up and recycle garbage, not run water when we’re not using it, and to turn off the lights as we exit the room.
After we learned the lesson for the day, we would exercise by doing a running activity that corresponded with the lesson. For example, on the day we learned about healthy habits, each girl would run a lap or two and meet up with one of the coaches. She would then tell the coach one thing she does to keep herself healthy. The girl would then receive a paper clip and run another lap. The girls would string all of their paper clips together to form a chain. There were no winners to this game, because the girls respected everyone’s strengths and weaknesses.
One of the major ideas we learned in Girls on the Run was how to stick up for ourselves if we or someone else was being bullied. Even though I had participated in Girls on the Run four years ago, this life lesson still comes up daily in my life.
One of the main reasons I joined Girls on the Run was because I knew that Coach Nader and the Girls on the Run program could help me deal with my bullies. I know I was only in third grade, but I was bullied and teased to a point where it distracted me from my schoolwork. I remember one day, I was being picked on and I decided to finally do something about it. I thought to myself, “What would Coach Nader tell me to do?” I remember her saying to always tell an adult, so that’s what I did. I raised my hand and spoke up for myself.
The lessons that Girls on the Run taught me still appear in my life. Whenever it is a nice day, I get off my phone or tablet and go ride my bike, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. I try to make healthy choices when I eat. I take care of the earth and myself. I am always kind to those around me, even if they do not show kindness in return. I still even deal with bullies today.
A while ago, my friend, who is a year younger than I am, was being picked on. He was being called rude names and being teased by other boys in my grade because of the clubs that he was in. I stood up for my friend and told the bullies to back off. I told my teacher, and the boys apologized for what they did. It felt good to do something about the bullies, especially because they were picking on one of my good friends. I was so happy with myself for defending my friend immediately, without hesitating. I feel like what I learned in Girls on the Run helped me to stand up right away. Everybody should have that sense that they did something right, and I believe that Girls on the Run can help young girls have that opportunity.
Even if these daily appearances of important values aren’t enough to pay for the time and devotion put into Girls on the Run, the race day definitely is. On race day, all the physical training we did finally comes to use. The team of girls come together to have an once-in-a-lifetime experience. The race isn’t just an average 5k. Girls on the Run teams from around the area come together to join hands and celebrate what they’ve learned from the past season.
One of the first words I would use to describe the race is empowering. Whenever we passed another Girl on the Run, we would give them strengthening words, such as, “Keep up the good work!” or “You can do it, keep going!” I remember that when I was slowing down, a Girl on the Run that I have never seen before ran past me shouting, “Keep going, superstar!” That simple phrase strengthened me so much, that I began to pick up my pace and run. The girl empowered me because Girls on the Run are all taught the same thing – show kindness towards others.
Before the race, the girls got to make little foam tiaras that they could wear during the 5k. The girls were able to put sparkles and sequins on the tiaras and write on them with markers. Coach Nader thought it would be nice if we put inspiring quotes on our tiaras. To this day, I still remember what I wrote. “I rock as me.” During the race, I truly did feel amazing, powerful, and strong. I felt like a princess or a superheroine while I was running.
Girls on the Run helped me realize my inner beauty in ways that I had never known were possible before. To this day, when I am being bullied, I feel unhealthy or inactive or just plain sad, I remember everything that Coach Nader taught me during my time in Girls on the Run. The empowering fire of Girls on the Run still blazes in my life, even though I participated four years ago. I will never forget the Girls on the Run cheer: “Girls on the Run is so much fun!”