If you stopped by Manchester School last Thursday afternoon, May 17th, you likely saw a group of young girls participating in a practice 5K. These young girls are part of a group called Girls on the Run. Along with their coaches and some family members, the students began their practice 5K to prepare for the upcoming Celebratory 5K in June. The girls participating in this year’s practice 5K were very excited made evident by their smiles, requests for a silly face group picture and their group chant of, “Girls on the run is so much fun!”
Girls on the Run is an organization that was first created by Molly Barker in 1996. “Molly’s vision was to create a program to teach young girls about self-esteem, friendships, teamwork and strength (emotional and physical),” said Jessica Weatherbee, Girls on the Run Coach. What began as one team of girls back in 1996 has grown into over 200 councils in all 50 states 22 years later.
Last year was the first year that Windham participated in Girls on the Run but interest in the program was strong and grew quickly. For some, this year will be the first 5K they will have ever participated in, while for others this is their second year.
This year’s group of girls from Windham consists of 44 girls composed of two teams; one team of 4th and 5th graders from Manchester School and the second team of 3rd graders from Windham Primary School. “It is a great way to empower young girls,” said Robbin Alden, mom of Emma who is a 4th grader at Manchester School.
The practice 5K was comprised of a little over four laps around the school’s property. The race was not timed but everyone who participated completed the course. “As coaches we have enjoyed watching the girls set their running goals,” said Weatherbee. “We have also enjoyed seeing them come together as a team and having the opportunity to build friendships outside of their school classes.”
The girls will have their final Celebratory 5K on Sunday, June 3rd at the Cumberland Fairgrounds. The event is opened for the public’s participation or to just cheer on the girls. For more information, you can visit www.girlsontherunmaine.org.