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Program empowers young women

Students in the Miramar Ranch Elementary School Girls on the Run team. (courtesy photo) 

Program empowers young women

By Ashley Shah

Girls on the Run, a national program that empowers young women, was brought to Miramar Ranch Elementary School (MRE) by resident Erin Patel. 

The MRE team is part of the San Diego chapter of Girls on the Run.

“This program does not just center around running, but also aims to help girls that are at an age where they are becoming more aware of social pressures, peer pressure and more. We try to teach them how to deal with intense emotions, gossip and more,” Patel said.

It is offered to students from grade levels three to six. 

“At MRE, we have students from third to fifth grade. We have about six girls from fifth grade, and the rest are evenly split between third and fourth grade,” Patel said. 

Girls on the Run runs during the fall at MRE. Sign-ups began Aug. 1 and ended in September. 

A team consists of a maximum of 20 girls per four coaches. 

“This year was the first year that we had a waitlist for the team, which we’ve never had. It really showed me that more people are getting interested in this program, which was nice to see,” Patel said. 

Practices began in mid-September. Practices are held twice a week and run for about an hour and a half. 

“During practice, the first half an hour, we discuss a topic, and learn how to deal with it. For example, last week we talked about gossip,” Patel said. “Then, for the next hour and a half, we run, while also incorporating an activity about what we discussed. Last week, after each lap, I had them write on the board about why they think people gossip, and how to counteract it. In the last part of practice, we discuss how the lesson that day relates to all that we have learned. We work on developing a toolkit for dealing with tough situations.” 

Practices continue until December when the 5-kilometer run that all of the teams in the San Diego chap-
ter are invited to happens – as a celebration of the end of the program. The run happens at Mission Bay.

“The run is not a competition. It is just a way for everyone to support each other on completing the program,” Patel said. 

Not only do the teams do their end of season run, they are expected to do a community impact project. 

“The community impact project is entirely run by the girls. They select something that they want to do to help the community. This year, the girls have decided to try to gather toys for the [Rady] Children’s Hospital. They are doing a toy drive at the school as well as a bake sale to raise money to buy more toys,” Patel said. 

Patel has been running this program at MRE since fall of 2019. 

“I had heard about this program from my friends on the East Coast who said this was a big deal at their schools. I wanted to bring that to Miramar Ranch, so I reached out to the San Diego chapter as well as the principal, and was able to get a team at Miramar Ranch,” Patel said. “I wanted to bring this here because I always tell my girls that women are the future. I really believe this program brings out the strength in girls and helps them become leaders. This program really encourages women to look at each other as a support system, rather than competition.” 

To start a team, or stay informed about the program, visit gotrsd.org. For information on the MRE team, contact Erin Patel at erinewayman@gmail.com