News: Inspiring confidence in youth though running
Story by Lance Cpl. Cameron Payne
NEW RIVER, N.C. - Marines with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MALS) 29 have joined forces with Delalio Elementary School aboard Marine Corps Air Station New River to help build a community in which girls of all ages know and activate their limitless potential and boldly pursue their dreams.
The program, called Girls on the Run, integrates life lessons and interactive running games to promote lifelong health, fitness and confidence through accomplishments.
Meeting twice a week in small teams of 8-20 girls, the participants go through a 24-lesson curriculum that is broken into three main parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork, and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large.
Angela Masdea, mother of Madyson and Emma, two girls in the program, believes her daughters’ efforts have taught them valuable lessons.
“The entire program and what it offers our girls is great,” said Masdea. “It is a running program, but it also teaches lessons such as bullying, self-image and community service.”
Four Marines from MALS-29 served as the coaches for Girls on the Run and worked hand-and-hand with the girls from Delalio to help the team transform from a group of strangers to a group of self-aware and confident young ladies prepared to tackle the challenges the program had for them.
“The program doesn’t measure success in the amount of participants it receives,” said 1st Lt. Jessica Fox, one of the coaches from MALS-29. “The organization values the importance of the lessons it strives to teach young girls, and praises each girl who understands the concept of personal growth and self-importance.”
Madyson and Emma Masdea, two participants in the program at Delalio Elementary School aboard MCAS New River, gave their opinions of the program.
“The coaches are awesome and the program allowed us to show our personalities,” said Emma. “I love the Girls on the Run program, said Madyson. “Before, I couldn’t run. Now I can run with my teammates, my friends encourage me, and we are also helping our community.”
At the end of the season, girls and their running buddies came together and completed a five-kilometer run that provided the girls the opportunity to see the progress they have made during the entire program and gives them a sense of accomplishment.
“I have learned at Girls on the Run to let my core values courageously guide all my actions and decisions on behalf of the greater good,” said Elizabeth Kunz, president of the organization. “I have an immense amount of gratitude to serve an organization that honors authenticity, integrity, mindfulness and respect for others.”
For parents interested in getting their daughter involved with Girls on the Run, the next opportunity to sign up with the school is in January. An additional program for boys is being introduced at the school called STRIDE and registration also begins in January.
“This isn’t your normal running program,” said Fox. “We are here to help young girls recognize that they are beautiful and that it is OK to be comfortable in your own skin.”
For more information about Girls on the Run, visit http://www.girlsontherun.org.