By Kim Walter
Girls in Frederick County will have a new way to participate in Girls on the Run starting this fall.
The program, which is entering its fifth season, strives to inspire young girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that integrates running.
Teams typically meet at a school or fitness site for 60 to 90 minutes twice a week.
Girls on the Run is for third- through fifth-grade girls, and requires three volunteer coaches per team. The program started two years ago with 25 girls at two sites in Winchester.
Last spring, there were 105 registered girls at nine different sites. Allison Major, council director, said the goal was always to spread Girls on the Run to all surrounding school districts.
"We're in all the city elementary and middle schools, which is awesome," she said Tuesday. "But I'm so glad that we're finally getting more options to girls in Frederick County."
A Girls on the Run team was offered last spring at the Snowden Bridge Residence Club in Stephenson. While Major said 12 girls participated there, transportation seemed to be a bit of an issue.
"We always prefer having a team at a school, because it isn't as hard to get the girls there," she said. "Now we're happy to offer a school site in Frederick County."
Girls on Track -- the sixth- to eighth-grade version of Girls on the Run -- will make its debut at James Wood Middle School this school year. Major said the curriculum and activities are adjusted to cater to the older age group.
After surveying parents in Frederick County, a majority preferred that a team be added at the middle school. However, if more interest grows at county elementary schools and coaches come forward, Girls on the Run could start teams for the younger girls.
Major didn't have a final schedule for the new team, but she said practices likely would be held on Mondays and Wednesdays after school.
Thankfully, three teachers from the middle school already have committed to being team coaches.
Grant Javersak, the school's principal, said the women are "highly motivated" and ready to start the program.
"Girls on the Run is nationally known, and we've already seen it do some great things in our area," he said. "Personally, I've heard a lot about the inspiration, empowerment and leadership that is coming from this and impacting local young women."
Even though coaches don't have to be runners, Javersak said the three coaches at James Wood Middle School are.
"They're excited, we're excited," he said. "I think it'll only catch on from here."
Major said the team is open to girls at other middle schools in Frederick County, but transportation would need to be worked out for them.
Body Renew Fitness and Family Sports Center in Kernstown will be another new site for girls in Frederick County, Major added. The facility will be open to all girls interested in Girls on the Run from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Registration for the upcoming season, which starts in September, is open. Major said that there is a registration fee, but it shouldn't get in the way of participation.
"We do have income-based scholarships and financial aid," she said. "The fees should never keep a girl from Girls on the Run."
Girls and community members interested in registering, donating or learning more about coaching should go to www.girlsontherunwinchester.org or www.facebook.com/girlsontherunwinchester.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org