Archived Story

Girls on the Run founder coming to Berrien County

Published 10:58am Thursday, May 23, 2013

On Thursday, May 23 Girls on the Run Founder Molly Barker will visit Berrien County to cheer on more than 700 Berrien County girls along with more than 1,000 community runners at the Girls on the Run 5K Event at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds. The program and warm up begins at 6 p.m. with the run kicking off at 6:30 p.m.
Area students from Niles Community Schools, Brandywine Community Schools and St. Mary’s Catholic School will be running. Emily Hosinski, United Way of Southwest Michigan, said 200 volunteer coaches teach the curriculum. Approximately 150 volunteers will be helping at today’s 5K run.
Barker used lessons from her own life filled with insecurities and bad choices to develop a program that used running  — the key to her own awakening — to help girls see how to break out of “the girl box” and become strong and confident people.
She recalls the moment in her life when she decided to take control.
“There was this thunderstorm brewing out on the horizon and I can remember standing at the top of those stairs questioning myself,” she said. “At that moment all the noise of the ‘shouldn’t’ and ‘ought to’ people and all that deafening sound from the ‘girl box’ had been screaming for years, ‘you’re not enough,’ ‘you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough’ and all of those became very silent and this one little voice, that little voice that I had bid farewell to in 5th grade…that one voice said… ‘run, just run.’”
“We are very excited to have Molly Barker with us at this event,” said United Way of Southwest Michigan President Anna Murphy. “She is such a dynamic individual and we can’t wait to hear how she encourages our girls to be their very best and to never get caught in ‘the girl box.’”
Girls on the Run is not a running program; it’s a character development program that teaches life skills in a creative and active way.  The Girls on the Run curriculum addresses issues faced by preteen girls by incorporating lessons about self-esteem and making healthy choices with physical activity and fun and creative games.
With this 10-week program, teams of 8-15 girls meet twice a week with their volunteer coaches to walk through the Girls on the Run (third through fifth grade) or Girls on Track (sixth through eighth grade) curriculum.  In doing so, the girls are preparing themselves to complete a 5K event, proving that by setting goals and working hard, anything is possible.
Academic evaluations of the program show a statistically significant improvement in body image, eating attitudes, and self-esteem for participants as well as improved sense of identity and an increasingly active lifestyle.  And most importantly, girls have fun because this program is all about exploring what makes them special.
Call Emily Hosinski at (269) 982-1700 ext. 23 or emily.hosinski@uwsm.org for more information.

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