It’s hard to believe, but Girls on the Run—the fitness mentorship program that helps thousands of girls each year unleash their inner athletes—is approaching a major milestone. And the organization is celebrating by (surprise!) hitting the pavement with a seriously inspiring 5K run.
That’s the way the third- through eighth-graders who complete its 12-week curriculum “graduate” every year. But 2016 is the 20th anniversary of Girls on the Run—and the New York City chapter’s 10th anniversary—so the Girls on the Run 5K on June 5 at Firefighters Field on Roosevelt Island will be an extra-special race.
And yes, you can definitely run along with them! (Cheering them on is pretty fun, too.)
Well+Good decided to put together a little celebration ourselves: a Top 10 list of the most awesome things about this empowering organization, which helps girls reach their strong, sweaty potential.
Read on for 10 reasons you gotta love the sheer girl power produced by Girls on the Run.
1. They’re bridging fitness gaps all over the country.
Not all girls have access to sports programs—or playgrounds. To address this, Girls on the Run was founded by four-time Ironman finisher Molly Barker in 1996 with just 13 girls in Charlotte, NC. Today, the program is serving 185,000 girls each year in over 200 cities across North America (with the help of more than 100,000 volunteers).
2. They’ve gotten a million girls moving since 1996.
That’s the number of third- through eighth-graders who have completed their 12-week fitness and leadership curriculum. Pretty epic, right?
3. Getting girls into fitness and sports is the gift that keeps on giving.
Studies have shown that girls who play sports are more likely to graduate from college, find a job, and be employed in male-dominated industries.
4. It’s all about positivity—and confidence.
Every year, each girl is paired with a certified coach, who acts as her mentor throughout the program. Over that period of time, the girls meet twice a week for sessions that mix physical activity with value-building workshops.
5. Volunteers can get fit and do good at the same time.
As a 5K Running Buddy, you’ll run alongside one of the girls as she experiences her first finish (or you can opt to be a Sparkle Runner, where you’ll join the race as a seriously inspiring cheerleader). You can also volunteer as a coach, create a chapter in your city, or make a charitable donation. Well+Good readers who’ve done it, love the experience.
6. These girls could be little CEOs in the making.
Among senior businesswomen in the C-suite today, 94 percent played sports and over half played at a university level, studies show.
7. The kids in the program pay it forward.
Each Girls on the Run team learns how to get organized and make a difference by creating and executing a local community service project.
8. The sweat sesh habit can lead to better grades.
According to a 2010 study, physical fitness is associated with academic performance in young people.
9. The Girls on the Run “graduation” ceremony is unlike any other.
Instead of walking down an aisle to receive a diploma, the girls run a super-festive 5K to the finish line where they collect their medals—and that’s what they’ll be doing at the event this June 5 on Roosevelt Island.
10. Their mission is the best:
“We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.” We feel a quotable moment coming on…
For more information on Girls on the Run and becoming a volunteer, visit girlsontherun.org