Girls on Run preparing kids ‘for what’s coming’

May. 10, 2014 @ 05:03 PM

OXFORD — There was a celebration every time a girl crossed the finish line.

Saturday’s race was the first Girls on the Run 5K in Oxford since the program started four years ago as an effort by the Henderson Family YMCA, Granville-Vance District Health Department and the Henderson Junior Woman’s Club.

Girls on the Run, a non-profit youth development program, seeks to inspire confidence and healthy lifestyles in young girls through a positive curriculum and running.

At each fall and spring season’s conclusion, the girls complete a 5K running event.

The program now serves about 130 girls at 10 sites in the northern part of the state, including elementary schools in Vance and Granville counties.

Jennifer Harris Honeycutt, of the Henderson Junior Woman’s Club, said the program tries to reach girls at a young age.

“We start with third grade, so we get them before they get to that critical point of the hormones kicking in and adolescence,” she said. “It teaches them how to handle peer pressure, bullying, what to do if you are approached to use drugs or anything that is not healthy for their bodies. It is preparing them for what’s coming.”

She said the majority of the girls are in elementary school, and those in middle school participate in Girls on Track.

In preparation for the race, the girls and their coaches spray painted their hair and wore neon-colored tutus.

Honeycutt said the spray-paint ritual is called happy hair.

“It’s something we do for the girls to make it fun,” she said. “This is their day. This is their celebration so we do it to make it even more joyful.”

Girls on the Run involves a service project component.

In the past, groups have put together volunteered at the homeless shelter, the animal shelter and Rebuilding Hope.

Fourth-grader Abigail Humphries said she said learned about having a positive body image and encouraging other girls, but she has also improved her running.

“I especially learned when I got into Girls on the Run not to start off fast,” she said. “Pace yourself at the speed that you are used to.”

Savannah Owen, a fifth-grader, said her group service project this season was cleaning the school’s courtyard for the fifth-grade graduation.

“We planted some flowers,” she said. “It looked nice.”

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