MONTROSE – Adolescence can be tough, but through Girls on the Run, an international program that builds character through running, girls in third through eighth grades can discover their own capabilities.
The program is available at all Montrose District schools, and at most schools throughout the Western Slope, including Telluride.
Fourth grade teacher Heather Philbrick is leading the group at Johnson Elementary, where 10 girls in third through fifth grades are taking part.
This is Philbrick’s first time leading Girls on the Run, and she’s impressed with the skills it imparts.
“The program focuses not only on running, but on teamwork, making healthy choices, having a positive body image and being confident with who you are,” she said. “It’s really a well-rounded program to help build girls up.”
Philbrick follows a Girls on the Run curriculum, which includes both classroom and outdoor activities.
“They really seem to be enjoying it,” Philbrick said of the after school class. “It’s fun to see them come of their shells. At first they’re quiet and timid, but now they’re getting to know each other, setting goals and learning how to set goals.”
The girls will also do a community service project as part of the class, Philbrick said, and will take part in the Montrose Run for Shelter on April 30 at Baldridge Park, a 5K walk/run that will benefit Hilltop Community Resources and Tri County Resource Center.
Philbrick said her school didn’t have a Girls on the Run program last year, because of a lack of volunteers, but she decided to take it on this year with the help of volunteers Laura Corbell, Renee Manuel, Amanda Jennings and Bonnie Ladage.
Skipping a year might be a reason her enrollment is low, Philbrick said, but she hopes it will pick next spring, when the program is held again.
“I enjoy running myself, and it just gives me a chance to share that passion with the girls in the program,” she said.
Girls on the Run can be found in more than 20 counties on the Western Slope, including Mesa, Delta, Gunnison, San Juan, Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray and Hinsdale, according to the website www.girlsontherungv.com. Jill Henwood is the Western Colorado contact and can be reached at 970/257-9267.
“Girls on the Run is an after school program that uses the power of running to help prepare girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living,” states the program’s website. “Through interactive activities, such as running, playing games, and discussing important issues, participants learn how to celebrate being girls. The program focuses on building self-esteem and improving emotional and physical health. During the 10-week program, girls are empowered with a greater self-awareness, a sense of achievement, and a foundation in team building, to help them become strong, contented and self-confident young women.”
Information and registration for the April 30 Montrose Run for Shelter is available at www.girlsontherungv.com/montroserunforshelter.