Girl’s running group builds bonds, teaches life skills

These girls are running for more than getting into shape. 

"It helps me to learn about my emotions and things like that and controlling my pace," said participant Lena Linardos. 

For Prentice Pope, it's an opportunity to bond with other girls.

"I get to interact with other girls and do other activities and learn different things," she shared. 

They are taking part in an after-school program called "Girls on the Run". The group teaches life skills to young girls. 

"Things like managing emotions, making attentional decisions, helping others resolving conflict, Laura Moore, executive director of the organization said. "We do all that through really fun dynamic running base games." 

Skills, Moore says are needed.

"We want our girls to know that they are valued and that they do matter and that they should use their voice and so our program gives them tangible skills to be able to do that," she added. 

The program also addresses some of the challenges that are unique to them. 

"Girls face a lot of conflicting messages about who they should be and how they should act before even before they know who they are," Moore explained. 

The initiative is about setting goals not running. 

"I feel better about myself," shared participant Tess Meyer. "Don't focus on the things that I can't do but more on the things that I can and try and get better." 

For the young ladies, it's a chance to bond together. 

"You get to interact with other girls and you get to get exercise and it's really fun," Marijka Hayes stated. 

Ava Zoz agrees, "It's just so much fun when you are with your friends." 

Friends coming together to make positive steps in their lives. The program is for students in the third through eighth grades. They have an event this summer to raise money for the program. 

Learn more at www.GirlsOnTheRunTampaBay.org.

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