Posted Kelly Frazee on 9/20/2018 |General
Six years ago, when I first became a coach for Girls on the Run, I was also in graduate school pursuing my teaching degree. I looked forward to days I got to coach GOTR and see the girls work cooperatively, run longer or faster than they thought they could, and cheer for and support one another. Seeing them at practice “choosing to be a Girl on the Run,” as they were taught in one of their lessons, was rewarding and made me proud to observe the intentional choices that would help them grow into thoughtful, encouraging and strong women. Yet, it wasn’t until I was coaching GOTR and working as an upper elementary school teacher, that I really saw the profound impact the program had on our girls.
As a teacher, I saw my GOTR girls use the strategies they learned during practices in their everyday lives. One of my students took it upon herself to make sure no one around her was ever too hard on themselves. Whenever she heard less favorable dialogue, she would run up to the person and proclaim, “No negative-self talk!” She would then proceed to speak words of encouragement to them, reminding them of how awesome they are and how they should be happy to be who they are.
After we learned the Stop and Take a BrThRR (Stop, Breathe, Think, Respond, Review) strategy, I saw girls who would typically become overwhelmed by assignments, take deep breaths before they began and then they would tackle their work with more confidence and assurance.
I saw girls who constantly had trouble managing friendships begin to stand up for themselves, talk out their problems, and become more forgiving and understanding. They learned how to address problems head-on, with empathy, and stopped blaming and victimizing both themselves and one another.
But, don’t just take my word for it! I caught up with some GOTR alumnae and GOTR strategies have helped each of them in their everyday lives in the following ways:
1. They manage their emotions in healthy ways.
“Once my friends were ignoring me and I was upset and very uncomfortable. Instead of ignoring how I felt, I used what I learned at GOTR to tell my friend how I felt and that what they were doing was making me upset. She still didn’t stop, so I told a teacher and she said that we should all talk about it and fix the whole issue, so we did, and we didn’t get into any fights. GOTR helped because we talked about it just like we learned how to do at practice.” - Samantha, 10.
“One time, I felt disappointed, but I like using the Star Power strategy because it helps me find my brightness!” - Emily, 11.
2. They are more effective problem solvers and communicators in their relationships.
“Me and my friends didn’t know how to stop getting into fights. Communicating is what helped us because after we talked about it, we started to all get along again. In GOTR one of the strategies was communicating with others.” - Amanda, 10.
“I think the most important life skill is to communicate because if you don’t your problem is never going to get solved.” - Olivia, 11.
3. They have a more open perspective on life and the world.
“GOTR has inspired me to run and to look at things in different ways.” - Julia, 11.
4. They are self-reflective and realize the ways they’ve grown as an individual.
“I became more open and more honest.” - Lila, 11.
“GOTR helped me learn how to have better friendships, and how to choose friends who are positive and supportive. I still keep those lessons in the back of my mind and use them to help me make choices about who I surround myself with.” - Emily, 15.
“I changed because I was more confident with running and with myself and I was also more comfortable around people because I wasn’t shy because I felt good about myself.” - Samantha, 10.
5. They let their GOTR experience inspire them to reach new heights in life.
“It inspired me to try harder and to not give up.” - Amy, 13.
“When I did GOTR it inspired me to never stop following my dreams, because when I ran that 5K, I didn’t stop until I reached the finish line. That was when I learned that I should never stop following my dreams.” - Emma, 14.
6. They stand up for themselves and others.
“Someone was being made fun of by my friends and so, instead of just standing there not doing anything, I stood up for her and helped her.” - Sophia, 11
Still using GOTR lessons in your life as a coach, veteran coach, volunteer, other supporter or alumna? Share your story with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the hashtag #GirlsontheRun on social media for a chance to have your story highlighted.