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Shining stars at Marcy: A look inside a GOTR practice

Posted 10/17/2015 | News

By Amber Storm

Have you ever wondered what actually happens at a Girls on the Run practice? As a new volunteer on the marketing committee, I’m going to be collecting stories of the participants, coaches, parents and volunteers in hopes of spreading the word about the amazing work the organization is doing.  

To get familiar with GOTR and learn more about the organization, I headed out to Marcy Elementary to observe a typical practice. I was greeted by Marie Palmer, the lead coach, and quickly felt welcomed. The three coaches I spoke with are all parents of girls either in the program presently, or have been in the past. The connection the adults have to the group of kids is so integrated, and supported by the school (the principal even ran the most recent 5K!). Right away, I saw that the girls had so many opportunities to apply what they’re learning because of all these connections.

After the girls ate a snack and socialized for a bit, we all sat in a big circle and recapped the last practice. The girls raised their hands to recall the lessons of running with a loud mind but quiet mouth (which one girl stated was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done!”), and thinking while running. I then got the chance to introduce myself as a volunteer, writer, mother, and runner/triathlete. Before I finished my intro, there were a few hands up with questions about what books I’ve written and what a triathlon is.

Then it was time for the activity. Coaches have a curriculum book with plans to walk the kids through lessons about self-esteem, body image, positivity and more. Today’s activity was to trace a friend’s body, then decorate it with what makes a person beautiful…inside and out. 

The kids had a blast and had some great ideas!  I think my favorite was “Have Courage.” Coaches and kids then sat down to talk about body image, and when asked to tell us about someone who has a good body image, I heard responses like:

“All of us in Girls On The Run!”

“My dad, because he doesn’t think bad about himself.”

“My sister because she eats healthy and thinks good about herself!

 And when asked what makes someone comfortable in their skin:

 “Not worrying about cool kids and if they’re gossiping. You forget it, and don’t let it bother you.”

“Even if people look at you funny, you’re still comfortable.”

 Next on the agenda was…running! Unfortunately it was pouring rain outside, but they made due with finding a path in the hallways. Coaches talked them through being respectful by staying to the side of the hallways, and the kids took off. In between laps, girls would grab a marker and answer the question “What Makes Marcy GOTR Girls Beautiful?” It was so great to hear so many cheers of encouragement throughout the entire run. Girls were high-fiving and being silly and saying “keep it up!” At the end, the kids created some great posters describing beauty. Their responses were creative, positive, and goofy – all qualities that make a kid beautiful in my mind!

At a final group circle, we talked about heredity and why people look differently. This message was all about acceptance and having a big heart. Finally, it was time for the “Energy Awards” where girls can nominate someone for things like cheering other people on or being positive. Two girls were nominated, stepped into the middle of the circle, and then everyone chanted a fun cheer around them. 

The best way to end my visit? I got nominated for an Energy Award! Thanks to the girls and their coaches for making me a part of your practice – keep up the great work! 

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