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Social, Emotional Building Program for Young Girls Expands in MN

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Thursday, July 28, 2022   

Registration time is arriving at several Minnesota locations offering a national program geared for grade-school-age girls. It combines social and emotional skill building with physical activity, and more sites have popped up in the region.

Girls on the Run is a nonprofit which developed the youth development curriculum for third- through eighth-graders. It is carried out by roughly 200 councils in North America, with trained volunteer coaches leading spring and fall seasons.

Mary Uran, executive director of Girls on the Run Minnesota, said it comes at a point in life when confidence and physical activity start to drop for girls.

"Both of those things happening at the same time does not serve girls well as they rise through middle school, high school and beyond," Uran explained.

The after-school activity lasts for 10 weeks, capping the season off with a noncompetitive, celebratory 5K run. There is a registration fee, but organizers say they are willing to work with families on overcoming any cost barriers to ensure access to the program. Beyond the Twin Cities, the program now has new opportunities in cities such as St. Cloud, Duluth and Rochester.

Uran estimated they will need 500 volunteer coaches to help with the fall season. Past experience in running or mentoring is not a requirement, and training is available. She also pointed out the physical activity is just a catalyst as they teach girls how to deal with things such as conflict, while overcoming stereotypes.

"That girls like to pit themselves against other girls, or that they have a hard time getting along with girls their age, that they don't want to participate in sports that they'd rather sit on the sidelines," Uran outlined.

A study by the University of Minnesota found 85% of program participants improved in areas such as confidence, caring and connection to others.


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