Posted Kenzie Kramer on 1/24/2017 |General
“I feel sad when you call me and my friends mean names because it's not okay to be a bully and I would like for you to stop.” When Girls on the Run coach Kira Wilsterman was told by another teacher that Katie, a third grader on her team, had used the lessons she learned in practice to stand up for herself and others, Kira knew that the time she spent with the girls on Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons was worthwhile.
“She wanted to share this with me because we aren't very often told that what we're teaching the girls actually gets heard and put to use,” said Coach Kira. Kira has coached with Girls on the Run Atlanta for 29 seasons, making her the longest standing GOTR coach. As a teacher at Oakhurst Elementary in Decatur, Georgia, Girls on the Run has provided Coach Kira with another way to connect with the students at her school and encourage them to nurture their physical, emotional and spiritual wellness.
Kira began coaching with Girls on the Run in 2002 after a friend introduced her to the program and was instantly hooked. “Even if I was having a bad day at school, I always left Girls on the Run with a smile on my face,” said Kira. During the fifteen years that she has volunteered with Girls on the Run Atlanta, Kira has seen the program grow from having girls join in at a community 5K and celebrating the night before the 5K with a pasta party to seeing Girls on the Run Atlanta serve over 20,000 girls.
In her 29 seasons of coaching, Kira has impacted the lives of countless girls, parents and community members. “I’ve seen the benefits with the girls and with their parents,” said Kira. “Not only do we have the girls who finish their first 5K and have such an accomplishment but I have just as many parents who have come up to say ‘Thank you, I ran my first 5K too. My daughter has motivated me to love myself the way I am and to take better care of myself.’”
Kira’s enthusiasm for the program has also impacted the Girls on the Run Atlanta council. “Kira is a fantastic ambassador for our program and has taken our mission into her personal and work life,” said Girls on the Run Atlanta Executive Director Lea Rolfes. “People joke if she has any other t-shirts besides Girls on the Run because she has every color of the rainbow.”
Along with coaching, Kira has shared stories from girls with the Girls on the Run Atlanta council, volunteered at fundraisers and events and shared tips with new coaches at coach trainings. This season, Kira will not be coaching as she starts an exciting new chapter in her life working on mindfulness in schools and teaching children’s and adult yoga. Kira plans to continue to volunteer with Girls on the Run and has even recruited new coaches to lead her school’s spring season. “Whether I’m there or not, Girls on the Run is awesome.”
Girls on the Run programs are made possible with the help of generous volunteer coaches who inspire girls to recognize their inherent power and potential. Girls on the Run councils in all fifty states are looking for people like you to volunteer as coaches and change girls' lives. For more information on coaching and programs in your area, find your local council here.