On Saturday May 12th at 9am, over 300 3rd-8th grade girls will pound the pavement in a fun 5K run to the finish.

Wait.  Fun?  5K run?  Those two words couldn’t possibly be put together when describing kids.  But they are, thanks to Girls on the Run Sonoma County.

Girls on the Run (GOTR) has been a source of positive influence for girls for years as a national program broken up into local chapters.  Sonoma County’s GOTR reaches out to over 22 schools in the area, offering a 24-lesson after school curriculum that lasts 12 weeks and works the girls up towards the 5K (3.1 miles) running event they’ve been training for.  Throughout the course, they teach health-based lessons that inspire girls to become independent thinkers, enhance problem solving skills, and make healthy decisions.  Their goal is help give girls the tools to be healthy and have a positive self image through the power of exercise and positive mentoring.

You have not seen anything until you have seen the faces of these young girls as they cross the finish line following weeks of training.  This is a huge accomplishment.

I learned that you should never give up even if it is hard.” – Madi, 8

“I learned that I can run faster than I think I can.” – Desi, 9

“Girls on the Run made me learn to help other people and not just myself.” – Anna, 9

“This is my third season as a Girls on the Run coach.  I don’t have time, I’ve never really been a kid person and I have dozens of other ways to give back to the community.  But watching the girls gain confidence, become athletes and radiate the GOTR spirit each season draws me back in to do it again.  Their sense of accomplishment and just plain joy is irresistible.” – Jennifer Ratcliffe, Coach

There are two different age groups of girls – 3rd-5th grades (Girls on the Run) and 6th-8th grades (Girls on Track).  If you have a daughter that falls in this age group, I encourage you to come out to the event with her and cheer on the girls who will be running their graduating 5K with GOTR.  Maybe this might just be the positive group your daughter might love to be a part of, and can grow from.

The run will start at the Rohnert Park Community Center at 5401 Snyder Lane.  Supervisor Efren Carrillo will lead warm-ups, and Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenze and Supervisor Shirlee Zane will be on hand to meet and greet runners.  If you would like to run or walk with the girls, volunteer, sponsor, or become a running buddy, register at gotrsonomacounty.org/events.html.

For more information on Girls on the Run Sonoma County, visit www.gotrsonomacounty.org.