Girls on the Run program serves more than 6,200 girls in a decade

From the press release:

Girls on the Run® of Western North Carolina will provide their life-skills and exercise programs at 40 elementary and middle school locations in Western North Carolina this spring.

“April 2012 marks our 10th year serving Western North Carolina,” says Executive Director, Audrey McElwain. “During that time our program has expanded for two sites and 30 girls in Buncombe County to over 70 sites and 6,200 girls in 14 counties.”

Last fall the local non-profit served 525 girls in 37 locations. With the program’s continued increase in popularity, it estimates it expects to serve over 600 girls this spring. “We have been amazed at the growth and success of Girls on the Run and look forward to offering our programs for another 10 years,” says McElwain.

The 12-week, 24-lesson program combines training for a non-competitive 5k (3.1 miles) running event with self-esteem building, uplifting team exercise activities and a community service project. Through interactive activities such as running, playing games, and discussing important issues, participants learn how to celebrate being girls. As a result of the program, girls are empowered with a greater self-awareness, a sense of achievement and a foundation in team building to help them become strong, contented and self-confident young women. The Girls on the

Run curricula offers a holistic approach to all aspects of girls’ developments – their physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well-being. The program also prepares the girls to participate in a 5K community run at the end of the program.

The goals of the curricula are to increase self-esteem, improve body image and self-concept, set and accomplish goals, create a stronger sense of identity and community, and improve attitudes towards physical activity. Girls on the Run topics addresses such things as values, self worth, body image, healthy eating, lifestyle habits, making healthy choices, emotional health, peer pressure, bullying, anger management, media literacy, stereotyping and discrimination, the importance of good communication skills, team work, and community and civic responsibility.

The program is open to any girl, regardless of income or ability, and it is the hope that all girls can have the opportunity to experience GOTR.

The overarching goal of Girls on the Run is to help empower girls to break free of the “Girl Box,” a term coined by founder Molly Barker. The girl box is the place where many girls go around middle school when they begin to morph into what they think they should be instead of being who they really are. The messages of the girl box vary but the overarching theme comes from a culture rooted in the belief that girls and women must conform to a set of standards that are often unattainable and dangerous to our health and well-being.

Research has shown that it is crucial to target this age group (3rd-8th grade) to help girls make positive choices in their teen years and in their adult life. Studies have found that the self-esteem of adolescent girls plummets significantly as they transition into their teenage years (12-18) and, ultimately, affects their ability to grow into well-adjusted and healthy individuals. When girls have low self-esteem they often exhibit risky behaviors such as substance abuse, eating disorders, and promiscuity that can have a devastating impact on their futures.

The “Girls on the Run” program for 3rd – 5th grade girls will be offered at Andrews Elementary, Bald Creek Elementary, Burnsville Elementary, Carolina Day, Cherokee Elementary, Clear Creek Elementary, Clyde Elementary, Dana Elementary, Deyton Elementary, Eblen Intermediate, Emma Elementary, Evergreen Community Charter, Fairview School (Jackson Cty), Fletcher Elementary, Francine Delany New School for Children, Glen Arden Elementary, Haw Creek Elementary, Hazelwood Elementary, Highlands School, Hillendale Elementary, Isaac Dickson Elementary, Jackson County P&R – Cullowhee Valley School, Marble Elementary, Rainbow Mountain Children’s School, Rosman Elementary, Sand Hill-Venable Elementary, Sugarloaf Elementary, Swain East Elementary, Weaverville Elementary, and YWCA of Asheville.

The “Girls on Track” program for 6th – 8th grade girls will be held at East Yancey Middle, Enka Middle, Hangar Hall School for Girls, Hendersonville Middle, Madison Middle, Mountain Discovery Charter, Rainbow Mountain Children’s School, Reynolds Middle, Rugby Middle, and Summit Charter.

The sessions will be twice a week after school and beginning the week of February 20th running through the week of May 14th. Registration will run from February 6th through February 17th.

The Girls on the Run 5K event will be Saturday, May 19th at Biltmore Park® Town Square. Complete listings of locations, meeting dates and times can be found at

For more information about the programs, and Girls on the Run of WNC, please call Audrey McElwain, Executive Director, at 828-713-4290, visit the website at or email at Girls on the Run’s mission is “inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”


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