FEAT: Girls On The Run

 

Written by Tara Lynn Thompson in the April 2017 Issue

Olivia Miller

Eleven year old Olyvia Miller doesn’t view advertisements the same anymore. Girls On The Run (GOTR) changed that for her.

I see ads of girls working out. Some make me feel good,” Olyvia says. “But girls sucking in their stomachs, photoshopped, not eating. They make me feel bad. Now I look at ads and think of that (GOTR) lesson. I think, ‘Is this going to make me look more beautiful? Because I’m already beautiful on the inside.

GOTR, a national nonprofit dedicated to inspiring confidence, health, and joy in elementary-aged girls through running, also teaches positive self-worth lessons before every practice. Last year, Olyvia joined the West Field Team chapter, which is part of GOTR of Oklahoma County, and the affects have been nothing but positive.

“The first thing I noticed is she started challenging herself physically. She started thinking about what she ate, whether it would help her run better or be healthy,” says Jamie Miller, Olyvia’s mom. “After the media lesson, she also started watching things differently, which thrilled me to see. Sometimes you just accept whatever is presented as reality. Already at 10, she was starting to question that.”

Miller says GOTR is really a “sneaky self-esteem program,” that looks like a track team but has such a broader impact on the girls. Lessons include topics for young girls, such as problem solving, self-esteem, resisting peer pressure, making healthy decisions, and contributing to the community. The lessons not only impact the girls, they often impact the coaches who are teaching them.

Jessica Kamp and Ellen Winter, both West Field Elementary teachers who started the West Field GOTR chapter, say the lessons are great reminders for them, too.

“We recently had the ‘Star Power’ lesson,” says Kamp. “We read this peaceful scene, asking the girls to visualize it. You imagine you’re a star in the sky that’s brighter than all the others. And that star is you. You have all these great, unique qualities. And I thought, ‘Yeah, I needed that today.’”

At the end of the 10-week program, GOTR of Oklahoma County holds a 5K run to celebrate their accomplishments, which will be held on May 20 at Bricktown Ballpark. Girls can run it, walk it, skip it, anything that keeps them moving. It’s an untimed 5K and open to the public.

“It’s a wonderful program and many women wish they had this when they were girls,” says Leslie Littlejohn, execute director for GOTR Oklahoma County. “We don’t require girls to run, we only encourage that any girl can accomplish any goal by moving forward.”

Volunteers and coaches are always needed. They don’t have to be runners, says Littlejohn, only women with a “heart ready to encourage our girls to be their best.”

Olyvia says that’s exactly what GOTR has done for her by giving her the tools to know she can accomplish far more than she thought she could. Now, when she’s confronted with tough challenges, Olyvia says she has one thing to say,

“Take that world.”

If you’re interested in volunteering, visit www.gotrcentralok.org.

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