Westerly Creek Elementary third grader Kam’ryn Martin proudly admits she has “fire feet.” She’s not the only one. Her 25 teammates on the school’s Girls On the Run (GOTR) Fire Feet squad all have “fire feet fever” too.
Kam’ryn and teammate Meg Downey say that GOTR gives them a chance to exercise with friends, develop self-confidence and social skills, learn how to handle problems, and most importantly, have fun. Part of the fun has been nicknaming their coaches by brainstorming ideas and voting. Their choices: “Coach Pickles” for Heather Alvarado and “Magic Genie” for J’ne Day-Lucore. The newest member of the coaching staff, Karen Craig, hasn’t gotten a GOTR moniker yet, but it’s definitely on the team’s agenda.
Team members and coaches share a common passion for running, but the GOTR program emphasizes more than physical fitness. Westerly Creek girls in the third through fifth grades participate in activities that foster physical fitness, positive emotional, social and mental development, goal setting, anti-bullying, and cultivating healthy relationships.
GOTR Executive Director Lisa Johnson says the program teaches girls to “define their lives on their own terms.” They learn to identify and acknowledge “their wheelhouse—brain, emotion and heart.” At the end of the season, teams take part in a celebratory, non-competitive 5K run giving them the opportunity to experience the tangible rewards of fitness and goal setting.
GOTR is a national non-profit funded through grants and community donations and staffed by volunteers (over 1,000 statewide). The program’s combination of physical activity and teamwork creates a positive environment for girls from all socio-economic backgrounds and athletic abilities. About half of the 2017 GOTR participants attended Title I schools (those with a large low-income population).
Active NE Denver programs meet at schools in Stapleton, Lowry, Park Hill and Montclair. Each session runs for 10 weeks. Fall sessions run from September–November and spring sessions from March–June.
How to Volunteer: Team SoleMates, an adult volunteer program, consists of men and women who help raise funds to provide financial assistance for low-income girls to participate in GOTR programs. New site and volunteer coach applications are accepted from December to mid-February. Principal approval is required at all prospective new school sites. Volunteers for GOTR and Team SoleMates can register online by visiting http://girlsontherunrockies.org/ or by calling 720.879.2354.