Ana Harris, a 10 year old with curly hair and glasses – whose favorite subject is math, started coming to The Salvation Army Community Center’s After School Program in August of 2013. Most of her fellow school mates come to the Community Center as well. Here they are greeted each day by the staff, receive help with homework and participate in a number of different activities. Ana immediately comments on the counselors, “they’re nice. They express how God created the world, and it’s nice.” She likes all of the different opportunities and clubs that are offered, including Girls on the Run.
“Girls on the Run is a new program that encourages healthy emotional and physical well being for girls ages 8-12, ending in a celebratory 5k,” explains the Program Director, Sarah Ruiz. “Coaches and volunteers are paired up with the girls and offer encouragement and guidance.” The goal is to create a safe and unique atmosphere where girls learn the importance of nutrition and being physically active, as well as giving them a place to talk through those unique "tween" issues.
“It’s pretty neat. As girls, we have big mouths,” says Ana laughingly; “Here, we can talk about problems, rumors, and friendship…we can personally let it out or tell someone.”
Nutrition is big part of Girls on the Run’s promotion of a healthy lifestyle. Ana’s eyes light up as she describes a lesson from one of her coaches, Ms. Melissa. “She taught us how to set up our plate and what kinds of foods to look for.” After listing the different food groups, she begins to reminisce about the other portion of the program…the running. “It’s hard at first, but it kinda got easier. It was neat to have older girls there to help run, know our pace and remind us to breathe.” When asked about what changes she’s noticed, Ana replies, “It’s what matters on the inside. You don’t always have to dress best…it’s not how you look, dress, or talk. It’s the way you think of things.”
Girls on the Run is one of the many programs offered at the Community Center’s After School Program. To find out more information, sign up your child, or how you can get involved email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.