The Girls on the Run program at Miramar Ranch Elementary School helps girls develop confidence and learn about giving back to their community â€“ and train to run a 5k. (courtesy photo)
Girls on the Run give back
It’s about giving back, being a good citizen.
Girls on the Run at Miramar Ranch Elementary School may sound like it’s all about running, but head coach Erin Patel assures that’s not the case.
“The program isn’t a running program,” Patel said. “Yeah, we run a 5k in the end, but it’s mostly focused on just developing confidence in the girls and also teaching them that giving back to their community is a big part of, you know, being a good citizen and a good human.”
The club, which has about 15 members between third and fifth grade, is split into two important parts. The first part of its meetings focus on issues important to young girls, such as negative advertising, self image and how to be a good friend. For the second portion, girls are sent to the track where they are encouraged to meet personal running goals, Patel said.
Although most girls aren’t able to finish a 5k at the start of the program, Patel said the most growth happens in their development as charitable humans. This semester, the group voted to put together “busy bags” for kids in the hospital.
“We have enough stuff, I believe, to make 90 bags and so the bags will be filled with little things just to keep you busy if you’re, like, in your hospital bed and you can’t move around that much,” Patel said.
Beyond just helping others, Patel said, the girls must learn about themselves as well.
She said a lecture about gossip was particularly impactful. As a mother who
doesn’t have a girl in the third-to-fifth-grade age range, Patel said she was shocked to learn about the pervasiveness of this issue.
“I think by the time that they had asked all their questions and we had talked about everything that was concerning them, we were almost out of time for that whole lesson and our lessons are like an hour and 15 minutes,” Patel said.
At this point in the year, the girls’ 5k was just around the corner. They were scheduled to complete the run at Crown Point in Mission Bay on Dec. 9 alongside about 500 other girls from other Girls on the Run chapters in San Diego, Patel said.
In a recent practice 5k, the girls left no doubt that they would kill it at the main event, Patel said.
“They all completed the practice 5k,” she explained, adding that she was pretty confident that the “girls would do great.”
Patel said the club won’t be returning in the spring because many of the girls will be participating in other sports, but she is planning on bringing back the group next fall.
“I know a couple of girls in third grade are already talking about next year like, ‘I want to do this next year. I want to do that,’” Patel said. “So, we definitely will be doing it again next year.”