OKEMOS, Mich. (WLNS) – In hopes of inspiring young girls, thousands of people took the streets in Meridian Township this morning for mid-Michigan’s Girls on the Run.
Teaching girls that they can do anything: that’s the goal of the program.
“I love Girls on the Run because it’s like running and it gets you active but you also like learn how to deal with feelings and stuff, so you’re like doing not just running like the whole time,” said Sasha, one of the program participants.
“The coaches inspire you and they encourage you,” said Ava Schafer, the 5k race winner.
“I think we’re just motivators, just having the girls a safe place for a bunch of girls to come together,” said Kim Weingartz, one of the coaches for the program based out of Fenton.
Every spring, Girls on the Run hosts a ten week girls empowerment course teaching them things like self confidence and how to work in a team.
Then they put those skills to the test during their annual 5k race.
Weingartz and Claire Meier are coaches for the team in Fenton. They say skills like these will stay with the girls through the rest of their lives.
“I think the biggest take away is that you can do it, and it’s such a group atmosphere that we’re a team, and we do it together,” said Weingartz.
“At around the age of third, fourth, fifth grade is a really important time in girls lives when studies show that their confidence begins to decline, they are less likely to get involved in physical activities,” said Stephanie McClintock, the council director of Girls on the Run mid-Michigan.
McClintock says with all of the pressures surrounding women in society, it’s important these young girls have a safe place to go.
“This program just gives them the skills to be able to navigate all that stuff successfully,” said McClintock.
“We like motivated each other to keep on going and we tried to push ourselves and we tried to do our best,” said Julia, one of the program participants.