Girls on the Run hosts annual 5K

YWCA is hosting its fourth annual Girls on the Run 5k. The Girls on the Run program encourages young girls to develop health eating and physical activity habits into their lives while allowing them to recognize their inner strength.

Kara Protasio, [email protected], is a senior mass media major.

Topeka’s local YWCA has been hosting a 12-week program called Girls on the Run. The program aims at empowering young girls through running. GOTR will host its fourth annual spring 5K at 8:30 a.m. May 24 in downtown Topeka.

During the 12 weeks program, participating girls from the 3rd through 8th grade has been in an after-school program designed to allow every girl to recognize her inner strength. The GOTR lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development. Physical activity and lessons that focus on healthy eating are also incorporated into the program to created an appreciation of fitness and habits that lead to a lifetime of health.

“Girls on the Run taught me to stand up for what I believe in,” said Cally Anderson, a 6th grade participant at Elmont Elementary. “So I am now more confident about everything, because I understand what it means to be me and believe in what I do.”

The program has also encouraged the participant’s families to change their health habits, behaviors and lifestyles. Each GOTR participant has the opportunity to select a running buddy to support and encourage as they complete the 5K together. For many of the girls and their running buddies, this is the first time that they have ever attempted a physical goal of this magnitude.

The 5K event begins with a host of youth friendly pre-race activities including the “GOTR Happy Hair” station, Mean Stinks and button making starting at 7:30 a.m. Mean Stinks is where the GOTR participants take a stand to end bullying. Then the 5K will begin at 8:30 a.m. will begin in downtown Topeka. The 5K course will travel downtown and go through part of the Landon Nature Trail and end at the YWCA. There will also be a 1K Kids Fun Run that begins at 9 a.m.

The benefits collected from this event will go back to GOTR. GOTR started in the fall of 2010 and has had more than 350 girls participate at 10 elementary school sites in Topeka. These sites include: Avondale West, Berryton, Elmont, Highland Park Central, Jay Schideler, Pauline Central, Rochester, Shawnee Heights, Tecumseh North and Tecumseh South.