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Girls on the Run East Central Ohio opens fall season with program options

Patricia Faulhaber
Suburbanite correspondent

CANTON  Girls on the Run East Central Ohio (GOTRECO) launched its 2020 fall season on Sept. 21.

GOTRECO is a program that delivers evidence-based, life skills curriculum to girls of all abilities.

Girls on the Run East Central Ohio offering program options for the fall season.

The organization has served more than 5,600 girls across Stark, Wayne and Tuscarawas counties since 2009. Because the Covid-19 pandemic is still gripping most of the world including the U.S., GOTRECO is offering a variety of programs to accommodate the changing and unpredictable 2020-21 school year.

The program’s goal is to help girls to stay active and healthy, according to acting Executive Director Mary Jo Harroff.

“Our staff and coaches are ready to bring critical social-emotional programming to girls in Stark, Wayne and Tuscarawas Counties at a time when they need it the most,” said Harroff. “We have adapted based on the recommendations of local health officials and decisions of local governments and school districts. The three options we are offering will make it possible for girls to stay active despite the pandemic, working completely in-person, completely virtual or can seamlessly transition between the two as needed.”

Girls on the Run East Central Ohio offering program options for the fall season.

The three options the girls could select from this fall included:

Flexible Programming Model: Working in partnership with community sites such as the YMCA and churches, GOTR in-person programming will be delivered as in the past, with enhanced safety measures including physical distancing modifications. Should schools and sites close, the program will be easily transitioned to a virtual model, with lessons that mirror the in-person program. This fluid programming model ensures that participants will experience the social, emotional, and physical outcomes of the program while allowing local teams to adjust to changes in the school and community health guidelines throughout the season.

100 percent Virtual: Virtual fall programming will be delivered by trained coaches in a safe virtual space, with lessons that mirror the in-person Girls on the Run program. Virtual programming will include physical activity and social-emotional learning, providing girls with an opportunity to still build meaningful connections with their peers and caring adult role models.

GOTR at Home Activity Kit for Fall: For 25 years, Girls on the Run has provided evidence-based programming that builds confidence and empathy in girls when they need it the most. Girls on the Run also offers the GOTR at Home Activity Kit for girls to do on their own. Designed to fuel girls’ mind, body and spirit, the kit includes 50 activities that emphasize the important connection between physical and emotional health. Each activity helps girls learn valuable skills such as how to cope when things get difficult, demonstrate care for self and others, and practice positivity. From the silly starters to the fun movement games and challenges, girls will laugh, create and grow through each activity.

“We have 60 girls registered for in-person at six locations this fall. We are holding the program at four local YMCAs including Lake Township, Louisville, North Canton and Massillon. And, we have a program at the Church of the Lakes in Jackson Township,” Harroff said. “All of the registration was for the in-person option, we don’t have any virtual registration. The season has been shortened and is only eight weeks this fall. We usually run 10 weeks. All the girls and coaches will be wearing masks except when they exercise.”

GOTR includes three learning components for the girls: Understanding what makes them unique; working in a team; and community where they do a community service project. There are a series of different activities for each component.

While the girls run each week, the finale is the big run. This year, the last run has been limited to the girls, their coaches and their family. The plan is to hold the run this year at Monument Park in Canton.

“The program strives to teach the girls the skills and techniques for now and for the future on how to manage their emotions and resolve conflict and running is one of those techniques. The girls are excited to be involved and have the opportunity to be part of the program. We opened it to the sixth graders this fall because the program was not held in the spring for the then fifth graders,” Harroff said.

Typically, there are two programs; one is held for third, fourth and fifth graders and the middle school program is open to sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

“Starting in January, we’ll be looking for volunteer coaches for the spring program. Those interested can visit the website (www.gotreco.org) for details,” Harroff said.

About Girls on the Run East Central Ohio

Girls on the Run (GOTR) East Central Ohio is an independent council of Girls on the Run International. GOTR of Stark County was established in 2009 and served 24 girls in its inaugural season. In 2016, it started serving Wayne County. In anticipation of expanding its reach within the region, Girls on the Run officially changed its council name to GOTR East Central Ohio in July of 2017. More than 5,600 girls have participated in the program.

Girls on the Run International was recently recognized by Health.gov as a national youth sports strategy champion for the first time since it began.

Girls on the Run East Central Ohio offering program options for the fall season.