Some schools are creating avenues for girls to build self esteem in school. Running and team building exercises are the cornerstone of these clubs.
Centennial this year launched a Girls on the Run club, bringing 18 third, fourth and fifth-grade girls together twice a week for important lessons about their potential and, of course, run.
The club — just one local chapter of the national Girls on the Run program, was founded last month by second-grade teacher Jenny Rosenfels after she heard about it from a friend.
“We’re just looking for ways to get people more active in our community, so we wanted to bring fun stuff to our community and we thought this would be a fun thing to do,” Rosenfels said.
Meeting for about an hour and 15 minutes after school on Mondays and Thursdays, the club provides participants with snack before launching its lessons, Rosenfels said.
“We’ve taught lessons on taking time for yourself and relaxation, self-esteem, being positive…” she said. “Kind of that whole theme of believing in yourself. I think it builds positive relationship between our third, fourth and fifth-grade girls while at the same time building a passion for physical fitness.”
Rosenfels, who is joined by fellow teachers Mishel Reilly and Lindsey Tillison as coaches on the team, said that while the physical activities are varied, the focus is always on running. She said each time a student does a lap around the school’s track, the entire team gets a bead to add to the group collection that will be added up at the end of the year.
“We stress as long as you’re moving forward you’re making progress,” Rosenfels said. “I think the kids really love it. They really enjoy it. They’re disappointed when we don’t get to meet.”
The club was so popular right from the start, Rosenfels said she had to ask leadership with Girls on the Run of the Rockies to expand her club from 16 spots to 18 and still there were some girls who did not get to join this year. Rosenfels said she has heard interest in forming a similar club for boys in the future.
The success at Centennial mirrors the success of Girls on the Run across Colorado, according to Lisa Johnson, executive director of Girls on the Run of the Rockies.
She said the nonprofit launched its Rockies council in 2005 in four schools, with 90 students. Now it is in 220 schools with an estimated 4,000 participants.
“We use the power of running to change the way girls see themselves and their opportunities,” Johnson said of the nonprofit’s mission. “Our goals is that through Girls on the Run, girls will gain self confidence and self-esteem and be able to stay true to themselves, as they continue through middle school and high school and on in life.”
At the culmination of this fall’s 10-week program, the Centennial club will join others from the region in participating in The Great Candy Run 5k Nov. 10 at Denver’s Washington Park, Johnson said. The run benefits the Fetal Hope Foundation and goes a great distance to build self esteem in school.