The local nonprofit Aiding Women In Abuse and Rape Emergencies, Inc. plans to celebrate the completion of the Fall 2012 Girls on the Run season in Juneau with an event in December that will not only embody the goals of the program, but it will also pay tribute to the hard work done by participants.
The mission of the Girls on The Run program, according to AWARE, is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. More than 40 elementary- and middle school-aged girls from Gastineau Elementary, Harborview Elementary, Montessori Borealis and Floyd Dryden Middle School have been participating in the 12 week curriculum, which ends with all participants walking or running a 5 kilometer run at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Dimond Park Field House.
“The process of setting the goal of completing a 5K, working towards this goal, and then completing this goal alongside their teammates, family and friends is very empowering to these young girls,” Julie O’Neil, Girls On The Run advocate, said. “Our hope is that Girls On The Run empowers these young girls with a greater sense of self-awareness, a sense of achievement, a foundation in team building and a commitment to enhancing their communities, all in order to help them become strong, healthy, confident women.”
The 5K event will be an uplifting gathering with pre-run festivities including face and hair painting, poster making, music, cheering and more. O’Neil said community members are invited to come cheer the girls on, but that the event is not billed as a community-wide 5K race.
“It’s a noncompetitive event,” O’Neil said. “These girls have trained together; everyone wins.”
O’Neil said AWARE is currently looking for volunteers to act as “running buddies” for the girls — someone to run alongside a specific participant and encourage and support them throughout the event. Every girl will be paired with a running buddy, she said.
“A lot of them have never run a 5K before,” she said. “And that’s a long run for a little third grader!”
The Girls on the Run curriculum engages girls to effectively problem solve and remain strong during adolescence. Topics include body image and the media, resisting peer-pressure, making healthy decisions, and contributing to the community. AWARE began Girls on the Run of Southeast Alaska in 2007, as one of their prevention strategies to work with youth to stop violence before it starts.
In Juneau, Girls on the Run is partially funded by the citizens of the City and Borough of Juneau through sales tax revenues.