WEST VALLEY—West Valley Central School will be starting a brand new program in the fall that will help teach girls important life lessons while also incorporating physical activity.
The Girls on the Run program at WVCS is a 10-week program that helps girls in grades 3-6 train for a 5K while also teaching about subjects and life lessons that affect girls in their age group on a daily basis. The program concludes with a 5K run held at Delaware Park in Buffalo for all the schools participating throughout Western New York.
“It’s a nice combination for girls of that age as they are able to discuss issues that they are going through such as friend issues, finding self-confidence, being happy and being kind and we then integrate a dynamic, fun running activity that reflects the topic to reinforce the same topic again through physical activity,” Girls on the Run of Buffalo Council Director Katie Joyce said.
While the girls continually train for the 5K, Joyce said that the program is non-competitive and the girls are able to run and train at their own pace. There are no place awards throughout the training and in the final 5K, the girls instead focus on staying active and gradually learning how to run longer distances with other means such as their lap counter goal, which provides a reward or encouragement to the girls as they increase their distance.
“At first, they are not really running that much and it's almost like a couch to 5K running program," Joyce said. "Girls are just encouraged to move. They don't have to run the entire time, they are not timed, they are not given a first, second or third ... they are running at their own pace and learning how to run a distance and how to increase their distance."
While Girls on the Run is a nationwide program and the Girls on the Run of Buffalo sector has helped thousands of girls in eight counties across Western New York, Joyce said that the program is especially rewarding in small towns like West Valley because of the constant support from the entire community.
"We love that our program has grown to areas that really see the value in Girls on the Run and I think what's nice is that it's an alternate option for parents whose girls might not be doing an organized or school sport, yet parents who still want to keep their girls active," Joyce said. "We love being in small communities because there is a lot of excitement that builds around it ... everyone knows about it and it really is a great way to create a lot of excitement."
Teaching the girls important skills and life lessons while also hoping to get the younger generation interested in running are some of the main goals for Girls on the Run, and Joyce said she hopes the program can help even more girls now in West Valley.
"We hope that they learn how to have a little bit more self confidence in themselves ... our program really tries to teach them what it means to stand up for yourself and to find your inner voice and let that inner voice shine," Joyce said. "We also hope that some of them get the running bug and continue on in either Girls on the Run or maybe trying out for the track team or they build up the confidence to try something new that they haven't done before, running or whatever they want to do."
For more information on Girls on the Run, visit www.gotrbuffalo.org.