DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– Twice a week at Union Elementary two dozen girls meet to learn life lessons while training for a 5K.
“I did it last year and it was really fun so I decided to do it this year,” said 6-year-old Natalee Sutton.
For ten weeks coaches with “Girls on the Run” are pushing the group of third through sixth graders to be their best.
“They are supportive, they motivate us and they teach us a lot of things and they just exercise with us and make our bodies healthy,” said 6-year-old Brooke Fitzwater.
The physical benefits are undeniable, but organizers of the program say running is only part of the equation.
They’re focused on each girl, to make them more confident, teach them how to work as a team, and show them how to give back to their community.
“My girls, when I coached a couple seasons ago, wanted to impact SICSA, so they put on a Thanksgiving play for their families, charged them admission, then gave all of the funds back to SICSA to help fund all of their furry friends,” said Kayleigh Pratt, council director for Girls on the Run Dayton.
The girls also work on self esteem and how to handle bullying or conflicts.
“I can say honestly I wish I had this program when I was in school. I just think it’s a great way for them to form a bond. It’s part of a sports team, pretty much where you grow together and create these different friendships,” said Allie Bowling, counselor at Union Elementary and second year coach.
In two weeks, the hard work will pay off as the girls gear up for race day.
“I am nervous, but also I’m really excited to do it as a group and with all of my coaches and all of my friends and stuff I think it’ll be really fun,” said Fitzwater.
“It’s really need to see older girls supporting the younger girls and just supporting each other. Even things like saying good job, way to go, you can do this.. pushing yourself. And I think that’s the most rewarding part of being a coach is seeing that,” said Bowling.
The girls will run a 5K Saturday, May 11 at Fifth Third Field.