Open Race Will Welcome Area Runners
One aspiration of the Girls on the Run (GOTR) Lancaster chapter is to make inclusion a priority of the program. "Our goal is to provide access (to the program) by (making) GOTR available where girls gather after school, which is not always at school," explained GOTR Lancaster executive director Carrie Johnson. "Many times that's in community organizations like Boys and Girls Club," said Johnson. "We will be inclusive in ensuring that all girls feel the curriculum is relevant and reflects their life experience and that all girls feel listened to, valued, and part of a team."
With that in mind, a team of nine girls from the Lancaster Boys and Girls Club began meeting on Sept. 10, and the group will take part in its first 5K when GOTR Lancaster holds its fall run at Millersville University on Saturday, Nov. 10, beginning at 9 a.m. Registration for the untimed run in the Pucillo Gymnasium will begin at 7 a.m. GOTR kicked off its fall season on Sept. 4 with 61 teams and 800 girls meeting in every school district in the county.
Jessica Wilson, who has coached the Blue Ball Elementary team, said that this year's 5K will include a variety of activities for the girls and their running buddies. "The presenting sponsor, (a local) orthopedic and physical therapy practice, will create a temporary tattoo that reflects GOTR and the fall 5K," said Wilson. In addition, the primping items that the girls may use before the race will include colored hair spray, face paint crayons, and bracelets they can inscribe.
Wilson noted that Millersville University students take a special interest in the 5K. "All the Millersville University athletic teams send representatives on Saturday morning," Wilson said. "As all the girls are running, (the Millersville students) will be cheering at the tops of their lungs or forming tunnels with their hands for the girls to run through or creating a high-five line (for the runners)." Wilson noted that the Millersville students can provide a real boost. "A girl who is struggling with motivation will turn the corner and see that team and take off," said Wilson. "It lifts the spirit." Johnson noted that in addition, members of area high school clubs volunteer at the 5K.
Johnson shared that GOTR staff members are pleased to welcome the new team from the Lancaster Boys and Girls Club to the program. "We are so excited to be branching out to a nontraditional site," she stated, noting that the program is always mindful of physical and cognitive disabilities. "We will strive to provide curriculum modifications when needed, and we promise all girls will have a coach who has been trained to understand social context and create positive and inclusive environments and build genuine relationships."
Jennifer West, program director for GOTR Lancaster, expressed gratitude for those who volunteered to lead the Lancaster Boys and Girls Club team. "We have one staff member, one intern, and the father of a girl on another city team who stepped up to coach," said West. "He saw the need, and we are really excited about that."
Both West and Johnson hope to see more teams that meet outside the traditional sites take part in the program. "We want to be a reflection of the communities that we're engaging," said Johnson. "We invite the community (to let us know) if they have a spot where girls are gathering and want to start a team," added West.
Readers who wish to take part in the run may register via http://www.gotrlancaster.org/5K. Registration will be discounted through Friday, Nov. 9. Discounts are also offered for running buddies and for children age 8 and under. Each GOTR participant who runs the 5K does so with a running buddy, who must be age 16 or older. Often, the buddy is a family member, but Wilson noted that volunteer running buddies are often needed. Individuals who would like to volunteer to be running buddies may visit http://www.gotrlancaster.org/5k#show-volunteer.