Empowering female students

SJNRA starts a Girls on the Run team

COURTNEY HAYDEN/Sun-Gazette Pictured are Sarah Folmar (left), Savana Smith, Katie Vogel-Laughner, Abigail Mitchell, Maggie Kaiser and Kallee Johnson, all part of SJNRA’s Girls on the Run team. Not pictured are Rena Reichert and Ellanor Mitchell.

From different lessons, activities, community service and running, St. John Neumann’s Regional Academy will boost female students confidence through their new Girls on the Run chapter, part of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Council. The first meeting was Sept. 26 and has eight members, Sarah Folmar, Kallee Johnson, Maggie Kaiser, Abigail Mitchell, Ellanor Mitchell, Rena Reichert, Savana Smith and Katie Vogel-Laughner

“It’s building the confidence in these girls. It’s giving them the tools to more confidently navigate through their day-to-day lives and in a creative way integrate running into all of that,” said Shannon Butters, executive director of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Girls on the Run council.

Girls on the Run at SJNRA is open to third through fifth grade female students, Butters said. The program has two seasons, one hosted in the spring and the other in the fall, both running for ten weeks concluding with a 5K. There are two weekly lessons running from 70 to 90 minutes.

The program does not focus on running but uses it to help the girls focus and practice daily lessons, Butters said. Participants have the opportunity to make new friends and learn about the meaning of community, self confidence, positive self talk, gratitude and activating their star power.

“It’s just a really great opportunity for girls to meet other girls that they might not have been able to interact with on a day-to-day basis,” Butters said

Participants tend to come back to do the program again because they continue to learn new lessons, Butters said.

Kaiser previously participated in the program through the YMCA’s Girls on the Run team, she said. The other students in the program at SJNRA learned about the program through their friends.

“I’m excited because I love sports and I’m excited to try something new, be with friends,” Johnson said.

“I’m excited because I’ve never done it before and my mom thinks it could be a good opportunity for me,” Smith said.

Each Girls on the Run team has to complete a community service project to make an impact in their community, Butters said. The project is left to the girls to decide what they want to do. They typically make the decision during the middle of the season.

The girls tend to enjoy the community service projects because they are “girl driven,” with the coaches available to help, Butters said.

During her first time in Girls on the Run, Kaiser’s team from the YMCA held a bake sale where the proceeds benefited the SPCA, she said.

“A very integral part of our lessons are community — what that looks like, what it means, how we support that and how our community supports us,” Butters said.

During the season, girls don’t interact with other participants from different schools but at the end of the season all 32 Girls on the Run teams come together for a 5K, Butters said. At the 5K there is a family fun zone with sponsored activities like face painting, temporary tattoos and a photo booth.

The fall season 5K will be at family fun zone at noon and the race starts at 2 p.m. on Dec. 2 at

the Miller Center, Lewisburg. There will be a cost and is open to the community.

“The beauty of the 5K is it’s not a competitive 5K. We’re not trying to run it for time. We just really want the girls to finish and by doing that we are giving them a real tangible feeling of what it’s like to set a goal, complete it, finish it,” Butters said.

Kaiser completed her goal during her time in the program at the YMCA and finished the 5K, she said. She enrolled in the SJNRA Girls on the Run program because it’s teaches you about positivity towards yourself and others.

“I learned to have good sportsmanship,” Kaiser said. Teamwork is important because “you can’t just do it by yourself, you need somebody to help you.”

There is a cost for the program but scholarships are available, Butters said. They do not turn girls away from the program.

Girls on the Run trains coaches to work with the girls and runs the program, Butters said. All coaches are volunteers. For the SJNRA team there are two parents coaches and two staff member coaches, one being Jennifer McPherson, director of guidance at St. John Neumann’s Regional Academy.

For more information about the program, email Butters at shannon.butters@girlsontherun.org or call 570-337-9865.