Posted Suzanna McCloskey on 7/13/2015 |Featured Columns & Series
This year, Girls on the Run will serve its one-millionth girl! We’re honoring this milestone by celebrating what makes each of us one in a million and by showcasing some one-in-a-million women who have made exceptional contributions to empowering girls and women.
The earliest version of the Girls on the Run curriculum was piloted in 1996 with the help of thirteen brave girls, including Kennedy Vaughan. As a fourth grade student at the time, little did she know what a pivotal role she was playing in the program that has now served more than 1 million girls and counting! Kennedy describes her experience with Girls on the Run as an "enlightening" journey that inspired incredible self-confidence and taught her to flourish in her own skin. As a GOTR alum, Kennedy recognizes the importance of reengaging with her local council and has since joined the Marketing Committee at Girls on the Run of the Triangle. She lives in Chapel Hill, NC with her husband and enjoys cooking, reading, yoga, running and more.
Here’s what Kennedy has to share about being one in a million.
Q: Girls on the Run envisions a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams! How did you start to realize your own limitless potential and pursue the path to where you are today?
Kennedy: I had an amazing support system growing up, namely my parents, who always told me I could do whatever I set my mind to. They gave me the motivation and tools to become the self assured, independent person I am today.
Q: Of all the traits and achievements that help make you one in a million, what stands out most to you?
Kennedy: One achievement that stands out most to me would be mustering up the courage to move to the city of my dreams (New York) after college. I had grown up visiting often and dreamed of living in the big city one day. So when the time was right, I packed my dreams and my bag and made the move for a few years for the experience of a lifetime!
Q: Which one of the core values of Girls on the Run resonates most with you and why?
Kennedy: To "express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions" resonates with me. As I have grown older, I have realized the importance of telling your loved ones and your support system in life how much you love and care for them on a regular basis. Life can be fleeting, and it is so important to express your love and gratitude to others on a daily basis. Another key to life is "nurturing your physical, emotional and spiritual health," so that core value resonates with me as well. Having a healthy mind/body really helps you to deal with life’s trials and tribulations. I practice yoga, which has taught me so much about how not only yoga is good for the body, but it is also good for the soul.
Q: One of the many things our curriculum teaches girls is how to recognize and work through challenges in productive ways. What is a challenge you have faced (or still face)? How did/do you respond, and what have you learned from it?
Kennedy: A challenge I have faced, as many girls do, is finding yourself and how you fit in to your social circle. We all try to fit in and be amongst the cool crowd, but as I have matured, I realized “being cool” is not the end all and be all. Finding people who support you, make you laugh and pick you up when you are feeling down is all you need. Once I found my core friends who I truly cared about and who cared about me, I stopped trying to fit in and became myself and grew amongst my circle of friends.
Q: What insight or advice would you offer a young girl today? What would you say now to your 8-year-old self?
Kennedy: To my 8-year-old self and to any young girl today I would say to not worry so much because everything will work itself out in the end. We all worry about body image, being cool, boys, school or regular work, family situations, etc. It is important to remember to be strong through what life throws your way and to take it one step at a time. Everything will not sort itself out in a day, but it will eventually. And in the meantime, surround yourself with positive people and activities like Girls on the Run. GOTR is such a great platform for creating physically and mentally strong girls,who eventually will become strong and powerful women.
Are you a Girls on the Run alum? Plug back into Girls on the Run by visiting our GOTR Alum page and signing up for our alumnae newsletter! Reconnect with the life skills you learned, see what’s new with Girls on the Run and help make a difference in the lives of girls today!