EDISON — A group of 15 girls in grades 3-5 participated in a national program called “Girls on the Run” this fall at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison. Fifth grade teacher Nicole Nolan of Bridgewater, an avid runner, introduced the program to the school community and the girls loved it.
“It was great and I would definitely do it again,” third grader Jeni Lynn Vargas of Dunellen said. “I liked when we did laps around the whole field. It was a great way to accomplish a lot of things, like running a 5K.”
The 10-week program took place Monday and Tuesday afternoons from mid September to November. Under the guidance of Nolan and Susan Howard of North Planfield, Lower School art teacher, the girls participated in approximately 20 lessons focused on team building, self-esteem, making positive social and emotional choices and setting goals. Activities included role-playing, physical games and running various distances.
“We learned about having positive attitudes and how to be healthy and stay healthy,” fifth grader Janeyce McCray of Plainfield said. “I really enjoyed it. On the actual race day, my parents ran with me.”
The girls enjoyed a bonding experience while preparing for a 5K race in Bridgewater on Nov. 18. The girls, joined by parents, siblings and friends, ran at their own pace and all finished the race.
“Every time we finished a mile, it felt really good,” said third grader Tenajah Eldridge of Plainfield, the first Wardlaw-Hartridge student to cross the finish line in 33 minutes. “I liked all of the activities we did.”
“Girls on the Run” is about more than just running for this group. For the Wardlaw-Hartridge girls, the program did not end with a race. The students are conducting a bake sale on Dec. 7 as a fundraiser to support the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
“The program is designed to educate and prepare girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living,” Nolan said. “The girls had fun training for the Girls on the Run 5K race while making friends and learning about themselves. The emphasis was not on running, but on having fun. The girls were encouraged to set goals and meet them by walking, running, skipping or a combination of all three.”
Nolan is confident the girls embraced the motto of the national organization, which says, “We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum, which creatively integrates running.”
For more information about “Girls on the Run,” visit www.girlsontherun.org
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