Shepherd Stars Shine at Girls on the Run®5K Race

Girls on the Run®

Girls on the Run® is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. Its mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running and is designed to teach life skills. The Life skills help to develop confidence, competence, caring, connection, character and contribution.

The program began in 1996 at one North Carolina school and has exploded nationwide to become the largest series of 5K (three mile) races in world.  On Sunday, end-of-season races were celebrated in 28 cities across the nation, including right here in Washington, DC.

Shepherd Elementary School

At Shepherd Elementary School, our girls met twice a week to focus on one or more of the life skills and get in shape for the big day.  But more importantly, the girls worked as a team through a dynamic curriculum which taught them how to understand themselves, value relationships and teamwork and understand how they connect with and shape the world at large.

This was the first year that the program has been available at our school.  Coaches Yasemin Washington and Jennell Alexander worked with the girls for ten weeks to prepare them for the big race.  Over that period,  they got a chance to watch the girls grow both physically and emotionally.   Running challenges that seems impossible in September became more manageable by the end.  In the same way, some of the relationships between the girls saw some rough patches.  However, by the time the race came around, they had learned to have a better understanding of each other.

The girls and the coaches alike were so excited when race day arrived.  Though there was a fierce breeze whipping off of the nearby Anacostia River, the sharing spirit and the thumping dance music warmed everyone’s heart and helped make warm-up easy.  It was exciting to see Girls on the Run® clubs from other neighborhood schools as well; we saw friends and neighbors from Takoma Education Campus (EC), Brightwood EC, Latin Public Charter School, Alice Deal Middle School and more.  There were a thousand or more girls at the D.C. race, but it felt like a big family affair.

The event was spectacular.  We were so proud as each of the girls crossed the finish line with their running buddies. And, of course, the families celebrated afterwards with a Ledo’s pizza party!

The girls finalized the end of the curriculum by contributing to through a Community Impact Project. The girls have decided to collect toiletries for the homeless and write letters of encouragement for children suffering with cancer.

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Jennell Alexander

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