Vail Valley Voices: Girls learn to be themselves |

Vail Valley Voices: Girls learn to be themselves

Katie MacFarlane
Vail, CO, Colorado

“Girls on the Run is grrrrrrreat!!” chants a group of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders from Edwards Elementary.

This 10-week program, offered each fall in the valley, educates and inspires third- through fifth-grade girls to free themselves from falling into “girl box” notions, which pressure girls to be who they think they should be instead of who they really are.

Young girls often hear messages – “You’re too smart,” “You’re too thin,” “You’re too fat,” “You’re too quiet,” “You’re too loud” – to the point where they lose their personal identity.

Girls on the Run teaches girls how to set and achieve both personal and team goals and prepares them for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living. It combines training for a 5-kilometer run with team-building challenges and discussions of social issues.

We want the girls to learn life skills. Walking or running is an easy and healthy outlet that can be done anywhere. In addition, Girls on the Run empowers girls with a greater sense of self-awareness and confidence.

This past fall, more than 80 third- through fifth-grade girls from Red Hill Elementary, Edwards Elementary and June Creek Elementary completed the program.

Led by parent, teacher and community volunteers, the girls met twice a week for 75 minutes to train and discuss the topic of the day. Topics included basic hygiene, healthy eating, handling gossip, bullying, peer pressure and how to handle social situations.

The season culminated in Steamboat Springs with more than 500 girls, parents, siblings and friends completing a 5K run.

One parent commented: “I can’t thank the coaches enough for all they have done this fall with Girls on the Run. My daughter had a great time. It went so far beyond training for a 5K! Thanks so much for your time, dedication and passion for running and staying healthy that you shared with our girls.”

Our coaches this season were outstanding. Their enthusiasm and dedication to the girls was inspiring.

Another parent commented: “Thanks to all you coaches who made a difference in our girls’ lives. My daughter loved it and can’t wait for next year. The direction and guidance from the coaches is awesome. Great job!”

The goal for next season is to double the number of participants throughout the valley, as well as pilot a middle school program.

The beauty of this program is that it offers the girls opportunities to grow into mentorship and leadership roles.

The middle school program, called Girls on Track, guides the girls in mentoring the younger participants, and it also encourages them to be more involved in the community. Once the girls reach high school, they can become junior coaches.

To learn more about Girls on the Run, or become a volunteer, contact Katie MacFarlane, the Eagle County Girls on the Run coordinator, at

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