Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer
The East Franklin Elementary School Girls On the Run (GOTR) team competed in the 5K run in Asheville on Sunday, May 19. This is the ninth year that girls from East Franklin have competed. This year 14 third and fourth grade girls participated in the event with more than 1,000 girls from WNC. Teachers and community members came together to coach the girls. Stephanie Braswell, teacher at East Franklin Elementary, was one of the coaches. Braswell says the girls met twice a week for 10 weeks, in order to prepare for the event.
“The GOTR program teaches girls how to develop self respect and how to make decisions to live a healthy lifestyle through interactive lessons and running games,” said Braswell. “The 5K is non competitive. Everyone’s bib has a number 1 on it. Each participant receives a medal for finishing the 5K.”
The track is a 3.1-mile course around the Asheville Outlets and Ridgefield Business Park. Water stops are at mile one and and at mile two. Cheer teams were placed along the course to encourage the girls.
What the girls learn
Confidence – Lessons are designed to teach girls self worth and help them feel greater confidence in who they are. Activities help girls recognize their personal strengths and teach them how to stand up for themselves and others.
Character – By gaining awareness of the power they possess to make intentional decisions, girls learn to choose positive actions which demonstrate respect and responsibility towards themselves and others.
Care – Throughout each session, girls learn to respond to others and themselves with care and compassion. Lessons and activities further develop their abilities to sympathize and empathize both within and beyond their social group.
Connections – GOTR lessons focus on cooperative skills and team building through a positive group setting. Girls learn firsthand how to create positive connections with parents and caregivers, teachers, peers and their community.
Competence – The program provides skill-building experiences to nurture girls physical, social and emotional competencies that they apply in other areas of their lives, such as home, school and in the neighborhood. Completing a 5K at the end of a season gives them a tangible opportunity to apply all that they have learned. When girls develop and strengthen these life skills, they can thrive. More importantly they can then develop a final skill, contribution.
Contribution – GOTR inspires girls to build lives of purpose and to make a meaningful contribution to community and society. This comes to life as a key element of the curricula when each team creates and executes a community service project.
The East Franklin Girls on the Run team took part in a community service project. The girls chose to collect food for the hungry. They made posters and created a connect Ed to inform parents, basically planning and implementing the entire project. They collected 102 pounds of food to donate to CareNet.
The true success of the program, however, is not told in the numbers, but rather in the words of the girls who participate. “Girls on the Run made me realize that I am the boss of my brain.” “I know that whatever I set my mind to do, I can do.” “At Girls on the Run I learned how to be comfortable in my own skin!”
Girls on the Run will continue next year at several elementary schools in Macon County. For more information about getting your third or fourth grade child into GOTR, contact the school’s guidance counselor to sign up.