Girls on the Run

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Program prepares itself for 5K race in Cincinnati May 7

By Matt Birkholtz

When Tabatha Clemons became involved with Girls on the Run in Grant County, she imagined a large number of young girls getting involved with running and learning some life lessons along the way.

Sherman Elementary and Crittenden-Mt. Zion Elementary were the first schools to jump on board last spring.

Clemons, the Grant County Parks and Recreation director, said the program became popular after the spring season and when Williamstown, Dry Ridge and Mason-Corinth Elementaries came on board.

“When we started the program, we only had 24 girls,” she said. “We are now up to 67 girls in the program. Just in one year we have tripled and it’s exciting to see this program helping more than just a few girls.”

Girls on the Run is a life-changing, character changing program for girls in the third through eighth grades of the Greater Cincinnati area. The program is 12 weeks and covers a variety of topics, including bullying and it utilizes positive reinforcement and role models to help the girls devlop skills to get through their pre-teen years.

Clemons said the practices for Girls on the Run have three sections. The first section is like an “ice-breaker,” introducing the girls into the program. The second section is the warm up and the final one being the race.

Clemons said the girls at the conclusion of the program work on a community project in their school. CMZ students painted games on their sidewalks at no cost to the school. Sherman Elementary walked dogs at the Grant County Animal Shelter.

Grant County Girls on the Run held a practice 5K race at Grant County Park in Crittenden April 14.

 “You could tell the girls worked really hard to break some barriers they had in practice. A lot of the schools don’t have the necessities for long distance running, so the girls would have to run lots of laps around the bus paths at schools. Being able to come to Grant County Park and run the whole race and not run lots of laps, allowed the girls to see how far they have come,” Clemons said.

“To have the support from family and teachers and their running buddies, had to help these girls,” she said. “I’m sure in practice, it can be repetitive. But, when you get to see your parents or your siblings and the people at the park cheering for them, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and the sense to finish the race.”

Clemons said both school districts were cooperative in transporting the students to the park. She also said the practice run also helps the girls not to be shocked when they run the 5K in Cincinnati May 7.

“I think bringing all five schools together and they see each other doing this, they can know they can do this,” she said. “Unfortunately, it runs on the same day as Derby Day and we like to support our local 5K, but we don’t select the day of the race. We are all looking forward to being at Paul Brown Stadium that day.”
Williamstown Family Resource Director Kelly West said she enjoys seeing the girls get out there and run with their buddies and is glad to see Williamstown become a part of the program.

“It’s a great program and I wish all the girls in Grant County could participate,” she said. “Just the life lessons the girls will learn and watching them run they realize they can finish the race is inspirational.”

Interested In Attending

The Girls on the Run 5K in Cincinnati is May 7 at Paul Brown Stadium. Registration is at 9 a.m. with the race starting at 9:55 a.m. For more information, log onto http://www.gotrcincinnati.org/ or call Tabatha Clemons at 428-4500.