The Client Command® team believes strongly in giving back to the community. For Media Coordinator Joelle McCollum, that means turning her love of running into a positive athletic experience for elementary school girls in grades 3 through 5.
Joelle recently assumed volunteer coaching duties for a Girls on the Run team in Forsyth County, Georgia. Of course she’s excited to get the girls involved in running. But McCollum notes the effort is about much more than how fast or how far girls can run.
”I’ve always had a love for running,” Joelle offers. “Now I have the opportunity to repurpose that into encouraging young girls to be positive and active.”
Having a winning outlook lays the groundwork for a lifetime of success, and helps develop the resilience young people need to weather rejection and come out on top.
Girls on the Run uses running to unleash confidence through achievement. So McCollum’s coaching is passing along her love of running as well as a host of other benefits. One lap at a time, her coaching efforts are creating a new generation of well-adjusted fitness enthusiasts.
The Girls on the Run Program is a transformational physical activity and positive youth development program that targets middle school girls. Its unique mission is to: “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum, which creatively integrates running.”
During a 12-week program that meets after schools, participants cultivate a healthy appreciation for physical activity and its positive impacts on all areas of life. Members build strong friendships and confidence by tackling new running adventures.
Certainly teaching running technique is a main objective of the program. But Girls on the Run is about much more than sprints and relays. It trains the mind as well as the body. With every mile they travel, girls are exposed to the empowering experience of accomplishing their goals.
“They’re reminded of their unique ability to excel – whatever the stop watch says,” Joelle notes. “In that sense, every single girl who participates is instantly a champion.”
These affirming experiences come at a time many middle school girls are at risk of losing self-confidence. Research shows that during middle school girls often begin to redefine their values and suffer losses in self-esteem.
Physical changes may cause them to question their abilities and how they feel about themselves. They may look to others for validation, and begin to focus more on appearances rather than self-empowerment. That’s why reaching out with a healthy, active program can have enormous impact on middle school participants.
Instead of succumbing to these problems, girls in Girls on the Run can help stop this destructive trend. The program’s healthy, confidence-boosting experiences work to offset the influence of shallow media messages that too-often emphasize how they look over what they can do.
Other goals of the program include challenging girls in a positive way to:
- Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making
- Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness
- Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions
- Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health
- Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent
- Stand up for ourselves and others
For more information about how to get involved, or about Girls on the Run in the metro Atlanta area, visit www.girlsontherunatlanta.org