With the ever-present influence of entertainment media, advertising, and social media, growing up in today’s world is hard. Girls and young women often have an especially difficult time, feeling as though they have to measure up and conform to unrealistic body and social expectations. This struggle results in poor self-esteem and unhealthy lifestyle choices for many young girls. This is why the Girls on the Run program is a vital part of life for thousands of Northwest Indiana girls.
Girls on the Run is a national nonprofit organization that gives 3rd – 5th grade girls the opportunity to learn about physical fitness, healthy eating, and positive self-image while having fun with their friends in an after-school program environment. Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana has clubs at schools all across the region, including at East Chicago Lighthouse Charter, East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy, and McKinley Elementary.
Girls who sign up for the 10-week program meet twice a week for approximately two hours after school. They participate in outdoor activities together, including stretching and running. The girls then break for a snack before tackling the day’s lesson. Girls on the Run has a national curriculum that all coaches and volunteers are trained on prior to the start of the program. Each day offers the participants a different lesson regarding healthy living, self-esteem building, and community volunteerism. Some days even feature bonus activities, like making your own healthy snack or working on a community project. Participants also have the opportunity to take various field trips throughout the course of the program.
While the girls participate in numerous activities each week, running remains at the heart of each lesson. The goal is to help the girls improve their running skills during the time they are in the program, so that they can participate in the Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana 5K at the end of the 10 weeks. Working hard at something for an extended period of time, like running, and then having success with it really boosts the girls’ confidence and drives home the life lessons of working hard, persevering, and believing in oneself.
This year, the Foundations of East Chicago (FEC) partnered with Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana to get more East Chicago girls involved in the program. To do this, FEC awarded a grant to Girls on the Run, which covered the registration fees of East Chicago girls who wanted to join the program. This worked to ensure that East Chicago youth could receive the lifelong benefits of high self-esteem, work ethic, and healthy living offered by the program.
To learn more about how Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana is helping East Chicago youth, visit www.FoundationsEC.org.