At Girls On The Run, D.C. Girls Learn How to Use ‘Star Power’

Lap one, “B-E-A-U-T-Y.” Lap two, “I-S.” The girls run laps around the gym vigorously as they race to have another word written on their arms. They run with huge smiles on their faces, and their laughs echo throughout the gymnasium. By the time that they are done with their laps, they will have “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” written up their arms.  

It is not hard to hear the pitter patter of steps mixing with the loud music blaring in the speakers and the yells of coaches. The girls are pushing and harder than they ever have before. The laps become faster — and the girls become happier as they know they are about to reach their goal for the day.

The sweat drips down as the girls huff and puff. They are now coming to the last of their laps. The sound high fives ring and “good jobs” ring through the track. The smiles are bright as day, and the girls now know that the hard work is done and it will soon pay off.

Girls on the Run is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young girls in the third to eighth grade to help see their potential.

Girls on the Run was started in 2006 by Carol Lynn Bamford with a team of 13 private school girls in Ward 3. Today, it serves over 2100 girls all across 8 wards and over 17,000. The core values are to recognize the power in decision making, lead with an open heart, embrace differences, nurture mental health, and stand up for others.

Women’s History Month falls in March of every year, Girls on the Run DC makes sure that every girl feels strong, not just in March.

“One example of a lesson that we use a lot is entitled ‘Real Beauty’ and the topic of the lesson is getting girls to understand their inner beauty and that beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder,” said Grace Kiyonaga, Program and Outreach Coordinator. Even though the girls are running laps frequently at their different sites, it helps the participants break down what inner beauty truly is and what it means to them.  

As conducted in a phone interview, a Girls on the Run participant, whose parents requested anonymity, said, “Girls on the Run allowed me to express myself in different ways, interact with people I don’t really know, as well as run…something I love!”

Running is a great way to increase overall health. In a study done by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, running five to ten minutes a day can extend life by a few extra years. The study also showed that it could improve heart health and reduce stress. Runners find themselves on the sidewalks at the National Mall and at the Georgetown Waterfront. This is especially true for young girls who do not have access or live near running trails and tracks.

Every ten-week program in the fall and the spring ends with a 5K. The 5K is open to the public, and it is a flat 3.1 mile out and back course. Girls on the Run also has Buddy Runners, and the Buddy Runners are given to participants who do not have an adult or family member to run with them.

Over the entire year, there have been 144 sites including Charter Schools, Public Schools, and Boys and Girls Clubs. Even though there are so many sites, every single one is trying to achieve the same goal.

“It is important to do Girls on the Run because it teaches you to be positive and use your star power!” exclaimed Lisbeth, a participant, as she gave her testimonial to Girls on the Run.