I recently had the opportunity to volunteer with an organization called Girls on the Run, and it was nothing short of amazing. I was a little intimidated at first because I went into the program not knowing anything. I clicked on a Facebook advertisement that said they needed more running buddies in my community, so signed up. I had no idea that I was getting myself into one of the most rewarding and fun opportunities ever!
Girls on the Run is a program that aims to inspire young girls to be active, happy, and healthy. They have a third through fifth grade program as well as a middle school program. I got to work with the elementary level program, which was a ten week program that prepared the girls for a 5k race. Every girl that participates in Girls on the Run has a running buddy to help encourage and cheer them on through their runs. It could be a parent, older sibling, friend, or a volunteer, like me, from the community.
When the practice run came around, I met the girls for the first time. They were beaming with excitement and eagerness to get out on the field and run. I thought this enthusiasm was great to see in girls at such a young age. These girls got out there and ran their hearts out, even on the practice run, with smiles on their faces the whole time. The volunteers were even struggling to keep up! When the main 5k came around, there was no doubt that these girls were ready. The whole event was bright and colorful, creating a fun atmosphere for these girls who had been working so hard. There were even booths set up for face paint, glitter hair, and art materials to bedazzle their race numbers. Every girl ran, walked, skipped, and hopped their way to the finish line, but most importantly, they did it with the biggest smiles!
Photo: EV on Unsplash
I have been an athlete my entire life. It’s not easy being a female athlete with all of the pressures that the world puts on us. We have expectations to look a certain way, compete a certain way, and act a certain way on the field. I loved watching the elementary school girls go out there and put their whole heart into this run. They did not have a care in the world. These girls knew they were doing something awesome and they were extremely happy while doing it. I hope these little runners never lose their sense of pride, confidence, and courage.
Volunteering can be so rewarding, especially when you find something you’re passionate about. When I was working with Girls on the Run, I genuinely wanted to be there, and I loved every minute of it. If you’re interested in Girls on the Run, I highly encourage you to give it a go! If it’s not something that’s up your alley, find something else that interests you in your community. As we cheered at the end of every run, “Girls on the Run is so much fun!"