Girls on the Run expands to Summit County | ParkRecord.com

Girls on the Run expands to Summit County

While 42 percent of young boys get their recommended daily hour of exercise, statistics show that only 11 percent of young girls reach their activity goals.

Girls on the Run, a nonprofit organization helping girls from third to sixth grade, is trying to improve those statistics.

Heidi Moreton, the executive director of the program, said boys simply have more opportunities to get active on a daily basis.

"There are more organized sports for boys," she said. "Our program provides an outlet for the girls."

She added that Girls on the Run aims to provide a cheap way to help young girls in more ways than one.

"Running is free; it doesn’t cost anything," she said. "It’s a good way to help these girls be emotionally healthy in addition to physically healthy."

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The program, which has recently expanded into Summit County, pairs each girl with a running buddy and a running coach, who help her through the 12-week training program, culminating with a 5K run at the end of the 12 weeks.

"What’s so great about it is, when they first start the program they can’t run very well," Moreton said. "By the end of the program, they’ve completed a 5K. It’s really empowering for them to have such a difficult goal and then to achieve it."

But, she added, the improvement girls see in their running is just a byproduct of the program’s larger goal helping them find their place in life. That’s something Moreton said many girls struggle with in their preteen years.

"It’s a good point where girls are at the age where they are trying to figure out where they are," she said. "We try to teach them to like themselves."

The program uses a research-based curriculum to help the girls with their running and with their emotional development.

"People think we are just a track program," Moreton said. "But the character-building curriculum is the heart and soul of our program. The running is just included."

Moreton said the program has enrolled 100 girls in Summit County so far and she’s hoping more girls, running buddies and coaches sign up in the coming weeks.

"It’s a great way for people in the community to volunteer," she said.

Both men and women can be running buddies or coaches, she added.

This year’s 5K will be held on June 1 at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City. To register for the 12-week program, or to volunteer as a running buddy or coach, visit http://www.girlsontherunsaltlake.org or call (801) 913-5584.