Over the past 7 years, Girls on the Run Buffalo has transformed the lives of 9,000 girls across Western New York.
This national organization’s mission is to empower young girls from 3rd to 8th grade using a curriculum-based program that teaches critical life skills through fun fit activities - like running.
The program works in conjunction with schools across all 8 counties and is lead by trained coaches under the guidance of lead coach and co-founder of GOTR Buffalo, Meghan Cavanaugh.
Twice a week groups of 15 girls meet with two coaches and from there it’s all about having fun, while stressing the importance of things like - confidence, self-esteem, and self-love.
“We teach everything from the importance of empathy to gratitude, the difference and importance of positive self talk versus negative, the value of community. It’s amazing to hear some of these girls’ answers, they are so well thought out,” Cavanaugh said.
So, where does the running fit in?
Well, it’s a built-in part of the curriculum.
“Everyone can run,” Cavanaugh said. “You may start walking, or skipping, or jogging, but that’s not what we focus on, we focus on instilling in these girls that as long as you try your best you will get to the finish line,” she continued.
This two-season program culminates with a 5k run at the end of Fall and Spring. That’s what these girls are training for - whether they know it or not, while they’re having fun during group and learning to empower their minds, they’re also empowering their bodies - it’s their ultimate self-test, their celebration.
An independent study, led by an expert in Positive Youth Development, found that Girls on the Run’s impact, as far as it’s intentional life skills curriculum and the impact coaches had on the girls, helped them dramatically increase their sense of self, develop healthier relationships with others, and improve their overall outlook and perspective.
Less active girls, became more active once they activated their own potential.
“What we’re teaching these girls goes home to their families. We see parents now running with their kids, learning from their kids, and signing up to be coaches and running buddies. Some of them join just so they can learn the same skills,” Cavanaugh said.
As part of their mission, Girls on the Run has a “no girl turned away” policy, which means raising money for their scholarship fund is crucial.
Over the years, several schools have been fully funded to ensure more girls are walking in life with the necessary tools they need to succeed.
On Saturday, October 14th the group is hosting their 2nd annual “Rock The Runway” fashion show. Adults in the community will strut their stuff all in an effort to help raise money for more scholarships.
“The more we raise, the more we can give,” Cavanaugh expressed.
In November, girls from all counties will gather at Delaware Park for their 5K race - the event they've been training for, together, all along.
For more information on how to join, visit Girls on the Run's website.