JACKSON TWP.  Teams from Girls on the Run have been at all the elementary schools and the middle school at Jackson Local Schools this month. They are working on building their confidence, having fun together and getting healthy in preparation of completing a 5K walk/run during their last class.

The Girls on the Run (GOTR) program runs 10 weeks with the girls meeting weekly after school. A variety of topics are addressed each meeting such as recognizing their own strengths and what’s important to them, building confidence, making connections, responding to others in a caring way, healthy lifestyle habits, setting goals, teamwork, getting involved as volunteers and becoming GOTR coaches. Girls meet in teams at different school districts throughout the county.

The program started this year on March 4 and ends on May 18 with the annual 5K. The girls also spend time each meeting preparing to run or walk the race which is held at Walsh University.

Coaches Sladjana Courson and Julie Thornberry have been working with five girls (there were eight registered) at Jackson Memorial Middle School (JMMS) on March 20. Courson said the girls are expected to participate in the 5K in whatever manner they are comfortable doing which can be walking or running.

Courson said the middle school program works on the five parts of the Girl Wheel including Brain, Heart, Social, Spirit and Body.

 “Our lessons focus on friendships, emotions, pressing pause, setting goals, asking for and giving help among others,” Courson said. “We build running and outdoor activities into our lessons to prepare for the 5K at the end which is a celebratory run/walk instead of a competitive event. We have over 90 percent of the girls attend all 10 weeks and complete the 5K.”

Girls on the Run is celebrating its 10th year. The program is generally run in the spring of every year. Courson said they are planning a fall program this year. She said they held one two years ago and decided to bring it back this year.

“We do have a smaller group this year at the Jackson middle school level. These girls are really engaged and participate really well. Middle school can be a tough time for the girls to go through and our lessons help them work through issues they may be encountering.”