Girls on the Run to start September 12th
National program to promote self-esteem and healthy living comes to Redfield
By Shiloh Appel
Girls on the Run, a popular after-school program across the nation, is coming to Redfield September 12th. With a mission to “educate and prepare girls, ages 8-13, for a lifetime of self respect and healthy living,” Girls on the Run uses a curriculum of “lessons, games, activities and noncompetitive running exercises to teach girls life lessons and build their confidence.” During the 10-week course, Redfield area girls will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4p.m. to 5:15p.m. at the Ken Greeno Building in Redfield and learn about positive thinking, teamwork, empathy, celebrating and sharing their strengths, and connecting with their community. They will also take part in healthy running exercises. The girls will close out the season with a community project and a 5K fun-run in November.
Girls on the Run was founded in North Carolina by Molly Barker in 1996 to combat the problems of depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders and body image issues in young girls. In 2005, it was brought to Sioux Falls by the Sioux Empire United Way and is now a signature program of EmBe (formerly YWCA). Today, EmBe facilitates GOTR in South Dakota and parts of Minnesota and Iowa.
Emily Rodgers, the local coordinator of Redfield’s Girls on the Run program, found out about the program through a friend and decided to bring it to Redfield.
“I’m a big runner, and she was talking to me about it, and I thought it was a really neat thing,” said Rodgers. “I love to run, so anything that has to do with that has kind of piqued my interest. What I thought was really cool about this is that they don’t focus on the running or your time or your pace or anything like that. It is just about finishing your goal.”
Rodgers said she has struggled with body image issues, so she can relate to the program’s goal.
“I went through cancer treatments and the loss of my hair and my body is completely different than it’s ever been,” said Rodgers. “Running has always been my go-to. I struggled with postpartum depression after my daughter, and running has helped me get out of that. It was a time away by myself. I don’t have to think about anything. It was a huge stress reliever for me. I have anxiety and I talk about that a lot. But it helps curb that. When I am feeling overwhelmed, or I just need kind of an outlet, running has been my outlet.”
Rodgers said running has helped her to focus on her goals and achieve them instead of worrying about “running as fast as someone else.” She hopes to pass this mindset on to her GOTR girls this Fall.
“I think they really need something to teach them that it doesn’t matter if ‘she’ is running faster than you. It is okay. You beat your own goal. Running is an individual thing, or it can be a team thing,” said Rodgers. “Some of them are distance runners - some of them might be able to run a mile in five minutes, where somebody else might not be able to do it that fast, but they can run 13 miles.”
Rodgers gave examples from her own experience in running half-marathons (which she has been doing since shortly after she married in 2011). Just this past spring, she ran in the Fargo half-marathon.
“It is a very powerful experience. You will see people that maybe are on a weight loss journey or are overcoming something. There are people with one leg. There are just all different walks of life. Poor, rich, anybody can do it. It kind of brings everybody to one level,” she said. “Everybody is so encouraging. This past spring, I was kind of struggling on mile 10. I was over it. It was down pouring on us. It was cold. I was kind of done. A gal came up behind me and patted me on the back as she was running. She took the time out of her time, essentially, and said ‘it’s alright, let’s keep going’. I hope to pass that camaraderie down to the girls.”
Coaches for the Redfield Girls on the Run program will include Rodgers, Heather Rude, Heidi Gehrke, Tracey Millar and Kayla Maher. The coaches will meet on September 5th to go through a training and prepare for the program.
Meanwhile, throughout the summer, Rodgers was busy raising the funds for the program. She had a goal of $1,796.00 for food, supplies, water bottles, T-shirts, membership dues, curriculum, kit materials and other expenses. The generosity of the community not only enabled Rodgers to reach her goal, but she was able to raise nearly five times that much. This insured that the Redfield GOTR will be fully funded for years to come. Local sponsors for GOTR are Heartland State Bank, Heartland Financials Services, Appel Oil Company, Appel’s Quick Stop, Shottenkirk Transports, Wells Fargo, Redfield Energy, HUB International, Stefan Schroeder Construction, Gillette Law Office, Spink County Abstract, RDO, Dairy Queen, Ace Hardware, Chris and Heather Rude, Kaleb and Emily Rodgers, Jim and Tracie Millar, Gabe and Heidi Gehrke, and Bryce and Kayla Maher.
Girls on the run will run from September 12th through November 22nd. To register, go to www.embe.org/program/girls-on-the-run. For more information, go to www.embe.org or www.girlsontherun.org.
EmBe, located in Sioux Falls, is an affiliate organization that offers the national GOTR program. Anyone who desires to participate in GOTR in South Dakota must go through EmBe. For more information on EmBe, or to become a volunteer, contact regional program coordinator, Allison Sinning at [email protected] or call 605-336-3660 ext. 8038.