Girls on the Run of Southern Oklahoma have set their sights on expansion into Dickson, Madill and Thackerville Middle School.
Currently Madill schools have agreed to host the program, while the other two locations are still pending. But, in order to bring the program to a new market, the organization first needs coaches in the area.
“Unlike other programs, we must have coaches in place before we enroll girls in the program,” GOTR Council Director Erica Gay said. “The other locations are pending, but we’re hopeful that all those details will work out in time for fall.”
GOTR relies on coaches to volunteer for the 10 week program in order for it to exist at the school. Gay said the organization often finds coaches in teachers, or parents of girls in the program providing that the aspiring coach meets their requirements.
“Our coaches often tell us, ‘I needed this program when I was a kid,’” Gay said.
The girls meet with their coaches twice a week after school. During that time girls learn life skills like self understanding, valuing relationships and teamwork, and understanding how everyone connects with and shapes the world at large all while staying active. The program does this by presenting a life lesson at the beginning of each meeting, afterwards the girls play a running game that reinforces what they learned.
At the end of the program the girls will run a 5k race, putting their handwork and training to use.
In its first season, Girls on the Run of Southern Oklahoma reached 26 girls. Now in their fifth year the program impacts over 150.
“We tell the girls, you can run, walk, skip, hop, jump or cartwheel across the finish line,” Gay said. “It doesn’t matter as long as you’re moving forward, just like in life.”
GOTR will hold a come and go event July 24 at Corner Drug in Madill. The event aims to spread awareness of what the organization is trying to do in the area.
But, expansion has its challenges. Gay said another challenge they now face, that they didn’t before, is transporting girls to the 5k run, who wouldn’t otherwise have a way to get there. Gay is confident though, that the organization will find a way with the help of grants and generous donors.
While expansion into Marshall, Murray and Johnston counties are the goal for this fall, Gay said that GOTR hopes to one day expand to all of southern Oklahoma.
“Our mission is that every girl knows, and activates, her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams,” Gay said. “With a mission like that there are no limits for us. We have to reach outside our current counties because we want to provide any girl who wants to be in the program an opportunity to.”