The spring season of Girls on the Run is upon us and 3rd-5th grade girls throughout Maine have begun meeting twice a week to train for the 5k in June while practicing lessons in self-confidence, good character, connecting with others, life lessons, and contributing to one's community.

I'm an assistant coach at Reiche Elementary for the second time, and it's made me realize how much I wish I had the organization when I was in elementary school. Here's why:

 

1) I Hid My Weird For Way Too Long

My favorite thing about Girls on the Run is their emphasis on weirdness being okay, even desirable. I put so much effort into covering up my kookiness growing up, only showing my weirdness to very close friends and my family after intaking a generous amount of sugar. Even then, I tried to only be weird in very socially acceptable ways that people would find entertaining, not off-putting. The girls in Girls on the Run are taught that our weirdness, senses of humor, and unique approaches to life are what make us better together than if we're desperately trying to conform to the same ideal personality.

 

2) I Never Considered the Big Picture

Between volunteering in the community, anticipating how to resolve conflicts or putting temporary challenges into the right context, I really lacked the "big picture view" growing up. Sure, I would volunteer through 4-H or resolve conflicts with my friends, but it's remarkable difficult to take a breather and compare how today's challenge compares to yesterday's, to what you might face in the future, or to your neighbor's current life headache. Putting things in context is a gift that usually comes with age, but we can teach kids to start considering it early on.

 

3) I Did Not Understand Exercise

Alright, so I swam on a team and had an active lifestyle with friends, outdoor adventures, and my dogs; but once I hit college and lacked that lifestyle, I grappled with the importance of deliberately inserting elements of exercise to a hectic life. When finals came around, the first thing to drop off my calendar was off-season swim training or an afternoon run. When exercise could've vastly helped me with stress management, inadvertent weight gain, and energy retention, I downed Monsters, pulled all-nighters, and napped excessively. It's not an atypical college experience, but looking back I really could've used the foundation of a healthy exercise regimen that our girls in Girls on the Run are building today.

If you haven't heard of Girls on the Run, check them out. Donate to the organization, come cheer them on at the celebratory 5k on June 2nd and June 9th. Support the girls in our society who are working to become incredibly powerful women.

Who run the world? Girls.