Girls on the Run


Program seeks to instill a focus on healthy living and self-confidence among young girls throughout America.

At the culmination of Girls on the Run--a program that has swept the nation over the last decade--participants complete a noncompetitive 5K race. By the time they reach the finish line, most of the girls will discover that their lives have changed since they started the program about three months prior. They will have become healthier, more motivated, and comfortable in their own skin. Girls on the Run serves more than 130,000 young people each year, and it is only continuing to grow across the country.

Founded in 1996 by Molly Barker, a former Ironman triathlete, Girls on the Run integrates life lessons for its participants in the form of an afterschool program that revolves loosely around running. While it sounds simple enough, the program had much deeper roots for Barker. When she was a teenager, she had succumbed to the peer pressure that is so common among high school girls who are forced to try to fit into what she has termed as "the girl box." Doing whatever she could to impress her peers, Barker started drinking when she was young. By the time she reached her 30s, she was a full-blown alcoholic and needed to turn her life around before it was too late.

While she was at her lowest point, Barker had the idea for Girls on the Run while she was taking her own daily run. Suddenly, she found the drive to pursue her full potential, and she sought treatment for her drinking problem. Within just a few years, Barker had gotten back on her feet and was ready to help teach young girls how to avoid the path she had ended up taking.

In its first year, the Girls on the Run program taught 13 pre-teen girls lessons about self-esteem and bravery. Through the 24-lesson curriculum (taught over 12 weeks of afterschool sessions), Barker encouraged the girls not to fall into "the girl box," but to be proud of who they were. The lessons revolved around workouts that were intended to encourage mental and physical wellness for the young participants. At the conclusion of the program, the girls all ran a 5K together, proving to themselves that they could do whatever they set their minds to.

Since its first year, Girls on the Run has grown exponentially, but the foundations behind it are still the same. Girls in 3rd thru 8th grade are assigned to teams of 8-20 girls. They meet twice a week and celebrate being themselves through the joy of movement. The program has helped over 700,000 girls to date, and it currently has participants in over 200 cities across the country.

You can see an example of young people participating in Girls on the Run in this video:

The success of Girls on the Run relies heavily on the volunteers who run the program locally as well as the donations from supporters across the country. To find out how you can get involved or help the cause, visit



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