Girls on the Run:
Caitlin and Amanda are mothers of Girls on the Run participants.
How did you connect with Girls on the Run?
Caitlin: I’m a lifelong runner, so I’d known of GOTR for many years before becoming a parent. I always thought the program sounded great for the emotional and social support it provides to the girls. I now have two daughters, both of whom were age eligible and joined this year.
Amanda: I was a volunteer for many years before my daughter was eligible to participate. I met a great group of women and really loved that the program was so holistic: it incorporates elements of mind, body, and friendship. Now my daughter, Claire is a runner in the program.
Why were you interested in your daughters becoming involved with GOTR-DC?
Caitlin: I think its great that it starts at an early age. I don’t need to worry about body image problems with my girls because GOTR is helping them proactively be proud of themselves and provides such a healthy environment. It’s also great to give the kids information and perspective that comes from an adult who is not their parent.
Amanda: The program is designed so that it targets issues girls will likely face at that stage in their development: friendships, body image, self-confidence, bullying. I was a girl once and I know those things are important—its key for girls to connect with other girls, and feel like they are part of a group. I can tell that the lessons are resonating with Claire, and that she’s being given tools to start handling some of the changes in her life.
How has the organization helped your girls?
Caitlin: I see the girls proud of themselves and their ability to run more laps—it makes them feel good! I see them growing up in a positive way.
Amanda: Claire’s favorite lesson was the one about rumors: she learned that if someone tells you a rumor you can stop it or spread it. We talked about it after practice and she told me now that if she hears a rumor, she would just forget about it and not spread it. She’s applying the lessons to her own life.
What intangibles have you taken away?
Caitlin: It’s a reminder to take a step back as a parent, and to help instill things in girls today that will help them navigate adolescence and come out intact.
Amanda: The volunteer network is great. People come back to help time and time again, in various ways. This is the first organization I’ve been involved with in a long-term capacity, and I see no end date. GOTR has a strong curriculum of community service and giving back, and it instills the importance of giving back and seeing how to make the community better. We see girls coming back to become junior coaches after they age out—they clearly see the value and want to participate and be able to pass it on. It’s teaching girls that they are never too young to volunteer or give back.
About the Author: While a student at The College of William and Mary, Marisa Weidner volunteered at a school in Belize. A DC newcomer, she blogs about her explorations of the city at The Curated City.