Girls on the Run educate, empower, train

Girls on the Run show off their new running shoes.

Eight weeks into our training and the girls at Whitmore Elementary are playing and training as a supportive team. We show off everyone’s new running shoes, complete with rainbow shoestrings, that everyone will wear at this month’s Girls on the Run 5K run, Nov. 13.

Our thanks to New Balance and Fleet Feet Sports Tucson for providing the shoes to all the Tucson Girls on the Run! The shoes arrived Oct. 4, and the girls were so excited! With only a little over a month left before the New Balance Girls on the Run 5k event, these shoes are perfect to help the girls train.

Meeting twice a week after school, Kristin Wook and I coach these third- through fifth-grade girls, with one of our goals being to get them prepared to run 3.1 miles. We hope to teach them a whole lot more than just the importance of exercise.

They’re at an age where boys aren’t yet their primary concern, but that’s going to change. It won’t be long before they begin to look to their peers for answers instead of the adults in their lives. That’s only normal. So now is the time to get across messages that we hope will serve them well for a lifetime.

Our  aim is the same as Girls on the Run: educate and empower girls at an early age in order to prevent substance and alcohol use, eating disorders, early onset of sexual activity, sedentary lifestyle, depression, suicide attempts and confrontations with the juvenile justice system.

It seems so simple, but being active in sports help girls and teens grow into confident, self-assured women.  We want them to know and believe that they are in control of who they are and that they are perfect and beautiful just the way they are!

Mary Atkinson, R.D., director of TMC Food & Nutrition, is passionate about promoting wellness. This is her third season coaching Girls on the Run

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