Girls on the Run offers growth opportunities

Yes, there is running involved. It’s even part of the title for the Girls on the Run. But make no mistake, it’s not only about running.

“Honestly, it’s such an amazing program for girls,” said Carrie Bristol, who oversees the program at New Morning School. “It’s an empowering program for girls, grades third through sixth. When you’re experiencing societal pressures, they challenge themselves. They work on their strengths and weaknesses while moving. “

Girls on the Run, established in 1996 combines physical fitness with curriculum-based learning and self-assessment activities, giving pre-adolescent girls the tools and confidence to deal with life experiences. Starting with 13 girls in the pilot program, the non-profit organization now promotes the program for more than 130,000 girls in more than 200 cities in North America.

Locally, several chapters of Girls on the Run will gather on Sunday, May 20 at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Twp.

Carrie Bristol gives instructions to Girls on the Run participants.

Bristol, who serves as a secretary at New Morning School, leads the program twice a week.  This is not her first foray into Girls on the Run.

“I previously coached 35 girls in the program,” she said. “I brought it to New Morning School because it’s an empowering program. It allows the girls to be the author of their life story. The sky is the limit.”

It’s not all about running

Another element Bristol likes about the program is how it allows the girls to not only learn about themselves, but about things they will encounter in the school environment and also outside of school

“The girls go through this and find, ‘I’m challenged by this.’ It’s good so they can see it in their own eyes,” she said. “Even though we’re a small school, I work with them to keep their ears open and to help them learn things about people that they didn’t know before.”

The program culminates with two events. The first is a local warm-up, a sort of practice 5-kilometer (2.3 miles) race at Lake Pointe Soccer Park, just south of New Morning School. It begins at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 9.

“We’ll need a lot of parents coming to cheer them on,” Bristol said. It’ll be a precursor to the Metropark event.

Part of the program also involves a community service project.

“The girls chose their community project as helping animals in need,” Bristol said. “They wanted to do a small shelter that does not receive many items.

“After some research, I found the Flat Rock Animal Shelter. The shelter only houses up to six dogs and 23 cats at time. They are in need of several donated items.”

A box has been placed in the school lobby to collect items. Donations will be accepted through May 7.

“They are super excited about this project,” Bristol said.

Event Schedule

Oakland County Girls on the Run programs will run with other similar programs at Lake St. Clair Metropark, 31300 Metro Parkway, Harrison Township, MI 48045.

Arrival:  11:15 AM to 12:15 PM

Opening Ceremony: 12:45 PM

Run Starts: 1:00 to 1:15 PM. The run will go off in waves according to zones, which will be called up to the starting line.

Run Ends: 2:45 PM

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Entry to Lake St. Clair Metropark
Participants can pre-purchase a one-day vehicle permit for $10 (plus processing) when they register for their GOTR, Heart & Sole and STRIDE event until Sunday, May 14. Afterward, a vehicle permit must be purchased on event day. To exchange a one-day permit for an annual vehicle permit, please bring that permit to the park office on event day. A Metropark annual vehicle permit costs $35 ($21 for seniors ages 62 and older), providing access to all 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks through Dec. 31, 2018.

Michigan’s Recreation Passport, purchased for your Michigan license plate, does not allow entry into the Metroparks. The Huron-Clinton Metroparks is a separate regional park system than the Michigan State Parks and requires its own entry permit.

There is plenty of parking on site at Lake St. Clair Metropark. Please follow the Metropark staff’s instructions on where to park when you arrive.