Girls on the Run® (GOTR) is a national nonprofit program that combines training for a 5K (3.1 mile) run/walk with a series of engaging, fun lessons that inspire girls to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. The non-competitive 5K celebration run is a capstone event that helps participants realize the power they have to achieve their goals.
The public is invited to join the girls in the noncompetitive 5K run, which starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, March 19 at East Kentwood High School. Online registration for adult runners is available at the Kent County Girls on the Run web site (www.kcgotr.org)
Registration for adults 18 years and older is $25 and includes a commemorative t-shirt and refreshments. The 5K event will also include a number of fun activities to help the girls and their families and friends celebrate the girls’ accomplishments.
Volunteers are also needed to help with the 5K run. Sign up at
In addition, participants and spectators alike are encouraged to bring gently used shoes to donate to In the Image, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to families in need. A truck will be on site to collect donated shoes.
Girls on the Run in Kent County
The Kent County chapter of GOTR is now in its eighth year. The 2012 season includes 121 teams under the direction of 294 volunteer coaches. The teams, comprised of girls in the third through fifth grade, meet twice a week after school and follow a 10-week curriculum that mixes running workouts with games and group discussions on topics ranging from emotions and gratitude to gossip, bullying, drugs and nutrition.
A key part of the program is involvement in community service. Each team selects a project in which to participate in as a way of experiencing what it means to help others. The program culminates with the non-competitive 5K celebration run, a capstone event that helps participants realize the power they have to achieve their goals.
A similar program, Girls on Track®, is offered in the fall for girls in grades six through eight.
The program is funded by program fees, offered on a sliding scale, donations, sponsorships and grants. A number of fundraising events are held throughout the year to raise funds to support the nonprofit program.
Instilling Confidence in Young Women
The overarching goal of GOTR is to help empower girls to break free of the “Girl Box,” a term coined by Molly Barker, a former triathlete, teacher and counselor who launched the program in 1996. The girl box is the place where many girls go around middle school when they begin to morph into what they think they should be instead of being who they really are. The messages of the girl box vary but the overarching theme comes from a culture rooted in the belief that girls and women must conform to a set of standards that are often unattainable and dangerous to our health and well-being.
Research has shown that it is crucial to target this age group (third through eighth grade) to help girls make positive choices in their teen years and throughout their adult lives. Studies have found that the self-esteem of adolescent girls plummets significantly as they transition into their teenage years (12-18) and, ultimately, affects their ability to grow into well-adjusted and healthy individuals. When girls have low self-esteem they often exhibit risky behaviors such as substance abuse, eating disorders, and promiscuity that can have a devastating impact on their futures.
Studies conducted on the GOTR program have shown that girls’ body satisfaction, overall physical activity level and self-esteem increases during the program. The findings have proven consistent across the country, regardless of geographic location or socio-economic status.
To learn more about the Kent County Girls on the Run program, visit www.kcgotr.org. Information is also available on the many ways to get involved in the program, including serving as a coach, volunteering at or participating in the May 19 5K, serving as a sponsor as well as helping to raise funds for the program.
Fund raising opportunities include signing up for SoleMates®, a program in which participants in various competitive athletic events agree to raise a predetermined amount of money for KCGOTR. Information is available at http://www.active.com/
KCGOTR Fact Sheet
Local program: Kent County Girls on the Run Program (KCGOTR) is an independent council of the National Girls on the Run organization. Our local council was formed in 2003 with just eight teams. For the 2012 spring season, there are now 121 teams representing 63 sites. The board and coaching staff are comprised entirely of volunteers.
Founded: Girls on the Run was founded in 1996 by Molly Barker, an author, four-time triathlete, counselor, coach and teacher. The national program is headquartered in Charlotte, NC.
KCGOTR Director: Lori Burgess. Email contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org
2012 Kent County Statistics:
For the 2012 spring season, Kent County Girls on the Run has:
• 121 teams from 63 different sites
• 1690 girls in grades three through five participating in the program
• 294 volunteer coaches, trained and certified by Girls on the Run.
• Two 90-minute sessions a week for 10 weeks
• 20 lessons that incorporate topics about self esteem, emotional health, standing up to peer pressure and other topics, along with fun exercise-related activities
• Community service project
• 5K celebration run
National Recognition for Girls on the Run®:
Featured on CNN, NBC, ESPN, MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, Real Simple, I-Village Live and in the following national publications:
Athleta, Secret Deodorant, Horizon Fitness, Goody Products, Garmin. In addition, Horizon Fitness supports the Girls on the Run SoleMates program, the adult charity running leg of Girls on the Run (GOTR).
Local Partners (as of May 4, 2011):
Amway Corporation, Gazelle Sports, Priority Health, Meijer, Rebekah Rosa Handbag Co., Ronald McDonald House Out State Charities of Michigan, Magna Mirror, ACP Entertainment, Celebration Cinema, Chemical Bank, Inspirations Photography, Horrocks, Kellogg, Fifth Third Riverbank Run, Pinnacle, Funky Buddha Yoga, Kent County Health Department and Eco Trek Fitness