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ACEC News / Fall Conference

September 9, 2019

Guest Post: Highlighting the Benefits of the Charity Supported by College of Fellows Fun Walk At ACEC Fall Conference

Girls on the Run’s Angelina

by Angelina

Being a part of the Girls on the Run program since I was in third grade and being able to experience the new Girls on Track: Heart and Soul curriculum, has taught me not only to embrace my love for being active but also to explore my growing identity as a middle schooler and teenager with coaches to support me and my friends to experience it with.

I love running, and the sense of freedom it brings to me in every way possible. I love it from the drip of sweat to the skip in my step all the way to the finish line. Yet, even when I reach my final strides to the finish, I know it’s not over. I know that the lessons of friendship, support, self-esteem, and empowerment are always there. Girls on the Run and Heart and Sole Girls on Track has found a way to incorporate what I love, being active, and tie in significant life lessons that I can carry on throughout my life. For the 12 weeks of training leading up to the 5k that ends the season, I’m taught how to be a Girl on the Run that is healthy from the inside out, physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is what Girls on the Run is about, and I’d like to share my journey as a 7th grader growing up in a Girls on the Run environment.

When I first was introduced to Heart and Soul, I was immediately drawn to the change in lessons that it incorporated. The idea that I grew up with the program, Girls on the Run, meant that I needed to be able to have lessons and topics that fit my lifestyle and situations I went through as a teenager. So the topics that Heart and Soul included made it very easy to relate to and talk about it with my peers. Growing up as an adolescent, I know that girls my age feel that might feel that sometimes there can be a lot of tension between yourself and society. There is awkwardness, confusion, and developing identities at this age. I found the guidance of my coaches and peers reassuring when I went through waves of stress. I feel that breaking these feelings down and talking about ways to deal with situations revolving around these topics makes it so much easier to handle. For instance, I know that most girls my age worry about what’s cool or what society projects as acceptable. But in this program I feel that a safe environment is created where everyone can feel comfortable, just being themselves.

The thing is, we are not taught to forget our worries and problems. We talk them out and deal with them directly. Every time we meet is a new opportunity to use the Girl Wheel, the elements that make us up: body, spirit, brain, heart, and social, to express situations we are going through.

We reflect and help each other out, bonding through the process. What I love about this is that there are so many ways I get closer to the girls in this program; we all find ways to look out for each other and build a safe, energizing community.

In my group, there are some girls that I don’t necessarily hang out or talk to, but during Heart and Soul we all bond and discover new things about each other. With that said, Girls on the Run and Girls on Track connects people together through the teachings of teambuilding activities and lessons of support. One of the memorable teambuilding activities was when my group had to come up with a strategy to use only paper to cross from one point to the other while keeping hold of each other. I remember talking over with my group that our communication, persistence, and commitment were what helped us win our victory.

The significance of this is that when we do this reflecting after an activity, we try to tie what we learned to our own lifestyles. For example, in another activity each of us had to come up with a goal that we would set for ourselves in order to help ourselves in a beneficial way.

Stephen King once said, “You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” I believe that Girls on the Run has taught me this over the years. Since day 1 of my first season of third grade to present-day me: a 7th grader 12th season, I have been coached by many great people that supported me through the many challenges I have faced. From the “I feel like I’m gonna die” moments to the “I don’t know what to do” and the “I can’ts.” Every challenge I faced, there was always someone I could go to and rely on for support. With Girls on the Run, I turned those moments around, I turned those “I can’ts” into “I cans.”

Click here to learn more about Girls on the Run.

Click here to participate in the Charity Fun Walk or to donate to Girls on the Run.

All comments to blog posts will be moderated by ACEC staff.

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