Grab your sneakers. Girls on the Run of Southern Oklahoma is gearing up for another school year. 

The program, which teaches young girls in third through fifth grade important life skills through a lens of physical fitness, expanded to Dickson Elementary School this year. A second program for sixth through eighth grade girls, Heart & Sole, will come to Lone Grove and Springer Middle School.  GOTR Executive Director Erica Gay said the program is limited to about 15 students per location. 

“It’s not about the running necessarily,” Gay said. “It’s about building friendships, learning and life skills to help girls get through the difficult times of adolescence.” 

Gay said Heart & Sole focuses more on developing and strengthening different aspects of an individual’s personality and leadership skills, while GOTR focuses more on self esteem and social skills. Gay said Heart & Sole came about after girls who’d aged out of Girls on the Run said they wanted to continue doing something similar. 

“The concept is that we have more than just one part of ourselves and we should nurture every part,” Gay said. “Brain, heart, social, body and spirit.” 

Those make up the five sections of the Girl Wheel, the visual tool the program uses to help girls become more well-rounded. 

“That’s relevant to that age group,” Gay said. “When you start getting older, you start focusing on things within your comfort zone, but this gives girls the opportunity to try things not within their comfort zone, that maybe don’t come as naturally to them.” 

Once the girls in the program become acquainted with their own strengths, the next step is to help them understand other people’s “wheels,” or what they’re comfortable with, and how to best respect it. 

“It’s also more girl-led, as in, the girls are leading sessions,” Gay said. 

Each Heart & Sole team will also hold a Back to School giveaway at the start of the semester. The giveaway will include a Sonic gift card, hair accessories and school supplies. 

Parents can register their students for GOTR and Heart & Sole at https://www.girlsontherunsook.org/Program-Registration.