G.I.R.L Run Club (Girls into Running for Life)

Organization Sponsor: Memorial University of Newfoundland

URLs: 

Program Description

G.I.R.L Run Club is a free learn-to-run club for junior high girls. The summer program teaches girls how to run 5 km using a run/walk training program while covering topics such as healthy eating and positive body image through educational sessions and role modeling. The goal of the program is to use running as a means of promoting confidence, body acceptance, socialization, and activity in girls aged 12-15.

Mission:

To provide a safe, respectful and inclusive environment for girls to learn how to be active, eat healthy and feel good about themselves.

G.I.R.L.’s Goals

  • To encourage girls to take up running as a fun physical activity.
  • To foster a non-competitive and social running group.
  • To provide girls with positive healthy messages about wellness.
  • To encourage girls to learn about their physical strengths, develop positive body image and self-confidence.

Training program is based on a walk/run method which will build the girls fitness level gradually and safely.

  • Please take note that this is a learn-to-run program. The program is not designed to improve race times or promote competition amongst the girls. We break the girls up into smaller groups paired with a group leader and it is mandatory that they stay with their group.
  • The training program is a three day a week commitment. We run with the girls two times per week (Tuesday and Thursdays) and the girls run with a friend or family member for the third.
  • By the end of the summer, the girls will be able to comfortably cover a 5 km distance.  We participate in a local community race to celebrate our accomplishments.
  • Parent education sessions are provided throughout the training program.  To ensure the girls are receiving consistent messages in their home environment, all parents are encouraged to attend a session on promoting a positive body image.  Other topics such as internet safety, adolescent development and bullying are offered based on parental interest.
Program Approximate Cost: 

free

Funding Sources: 

Memorial University, The Department of Health and Community Servicesm,D. Moore Designs, Allied Health Services, Body Image Network,The Wellness Coalition – Avalon East, Athletic North East.

Strategies For Sustainability: 

G.I.R.L. is designed to break down barriers such as social class, opportunities and transportation that prevent girls from participating in physical activity. However, the group is not just about running. Health information sessions related to running injury free, healthy eating and body image are provided by health professionals throughout the 13-week program.

Impact Of Program: 

Dr. Petherick is very proud that of the 41 girls registered -- 17 of whom are returning from last year -- four, who are now in high school, are returning as junior mentors.“The number of female volunteers who are Memorial students (graduate and undergraduate), the support of the community and most importantly the young women who join the club are delightful. On our website we had to start a waiting list, which hopefully speaks to the success of the group.”

Key Elements Towards Success: 

G.I.R.L Run Club is lead by women volunteers in our community. We want to encourage healthy and active lifestyles by providing girls with an opportunity to participate in a non-competitive program. We strongly believe that it is not about how fast you finish-but that you finished. The club is designed to foster an enjoyment of physical activity while also building self-confidence. G.I.R.L. is designed to break down barriers such as social class, opportunities and transportation that prevent girls from participating in physical activity. However, the group is not just about running. Health information sessions related to running injury free, healthy eating and body image are provided by health professionals throughout the 13-week program. Dr. Petherick is very clear that this is not meant to encourage exercise in relation to weight but to promote making new friends, to help the girls develop pride in themselves while enjoying physical activity.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

“Girls’ lives are complex. Research has found that female-focused programs can be effective if programs embrace and respect this diversity. We’re hoping that the leaders and mentors will give the girls the tools to gain independence, learn leadership skills and build confidence because feeling good about yourself directly impacts girls’ body image,”added Dr. Petherick.

Length and Stage of Project: 

It was started in 2009 by Dr. LeAnne Petherick, a professor in Human Kinetics and Recreation, and Holly Grant with Allied Health Services. They are working with the Body Image Network on an initiative designed to encourage girls to be active and to develop self-confidence.

Share Your Thoughts