Exercise & Fitness

You Go, Girls!

Girls on the Run teaches young ladies valuable life lessons while training them for a 5K. Get your girl involved!

Everyone knows weekends at Arrowhead Stadium are full of rowdy, adoring fans cheering on some of KC’s most inspiring athletes. Saturday, Nov. 16, was no different except for the fact that people weren’t attending a Chiefs game—they were supporting Girls on the Run of Greater Kansas City’s Fall 5K event.

What is Girls on the Run?

They are an international nonprofit with a network of 200+ locations across the U.S. and Canada— and have been in Kansas City since 2007. Its mission is to inspire girls in the third through eighth grades to live healthy, happy lifestyles through fun, hands-on curriculum that creatively integrates exercise.

“Girls at this age are starting to get a lot of messages about who they should be or what they should look like,” says Lisa Pickard, executive director of Girls on the Run of Greater KC. “It’s vitally important that we reach girls at this age because, at this age, they are really open to adult involvement and adult interaction. We teach them to not only have healthy bodies, but also have healthy attitudes about their bodies.”

The program consists of 20 lessons that teach girls how to make healthy decisions while also training them for a semi-annual 5K. The lessons are divided into three parts, according to Pickard. The first part is about how to take care of themselves, the second part is how to take care of others, and the third part is how to take what they’ve learned out into the community. Each lesson is followed up with a running game that prepares the girls for the ultimate goal: running a 5K.

“The 5K is what we call ‘the culminating experience’ for these girls,” Pickard says. “What we’re teaching these girls along their 10-week journey with Girls on the Run is what happens when they set a goal for themselves and work diligently toward that goal. We make it very fun for the girls. It’s all about coming across the finish line the best way you can, whether it’s running, walking, skipping, hopping—whatever way you can do it to finish that goal.”

That Saturday, more than 2,200 runners, coaches and supporters descended upon Arrowhead Stadium for KC’s biggest Girls on the Run event to date. Every runner that crossed the finish line was a winner in Pickard’s eyes. “It was such a joyous experience not only for the runners, but for the people watching them cross the finish line,” she says. “Not only are we supporting the girls as they cross the finish line, but we’re supporting the girls in the program for years to come.”

Know someone who would be perfect for Girls on the Run? Parents and guardians can visit the Girls on the Run website. to register their daughter in the program or learn how to start a GOTR group at her school. Registration for the spring season starts in January. The spring season starts the week of March 3, and GOTR’s Spring 5K event will take place on May 17, 2014. The organization is always looking for volunteers too, Pickard says.

Story by Kathryn Jones