A new Shreveport nonprofit will begin delivering its mission next month to empower girls in third through eighth grade through a 12-week program called Girls on the Run. Shreveport is the newest council addition to Girls on the Run International.
Executive director Beth Ann Menger was involved in the organization when she lived in Washington, D.C. When she moved to Shreveport two years ago, she was determined to bring Girls on the Run here.
Menger said lessons are delivered twice-weekly in an after-school setting. The girls work their way up to completing a 5K run in the spring. All the while, they discuss emotional issues they encounter at their age.
“One lesson might focus on peer pressure and knowing how to handle it. There will be some running activities to work through. Other lessons deal with how to handle gossip in a more positive way or how to have a healthier body image," Menger said.
Girls on the Run activities are designed to inspire girls to be healthy and confident, according to Menger. While student teaching, she saw these lessons pay off when she encountered hurtful name calling by a third grader.
“The one who had something nasty said to her, took a deep breath and just turned to the other girl said, When you say that about me it makes me feel this way, please don’t say that. I remember witnessing it and I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, but I silently inside was like Yes, this shows that it works!” Menger said.
Girls on the Run operates in more than 200 cities in the U.S. and Canada. Menger said the Shreveport chapter is currently recruiting volunteers. The program begins Jan. 27 at two sites in Shreveport. Information is at gotrshreveport.org.