Every Tuesday afternoon and every Saturday morning, rain or shine, a group of girls gathers at Beckett Life Center in North Philly for something both totally simple and totally deep: Running. For some, it’s because they have always wanted to run track; others say it’s because the girls and coaches offer encouragement, when they normally are the victim of bullying. With Girls on the Run, they get both—the exercise of running and the exercise of building life skills.
GOTR is a nation-wide program that uses running to teach 8-13 year old girls how to tackle issues like peer pressure, healthy eating, body image, positivity, bullying, and other issues that girls face every day. It was founded in 1996 in North Carolina and since then has served over 1 million girls nationally through branches in more than 200 locations across the United States and Canada. GOTR Philadelphia started in 2012 and there are now 24 teams serving 300 girls at various schools and community centers throughout the city.
While GOTR teams are located in all different kinds of neighborhoods throughout the city, the organization has been working with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and public health officials to specifically target zip codes where girls are at the highest risk for childhood obesity and the negative and physical and psychological issues that result from it.
It costs $150 for a season of GOTR, but 65% of the participants are on financial aid and the vast majority of these families only pay $10 to join the program.
The culminating event of the season is the 5K. All the teams come together from across the city for the event and it is open to the public. This season, the 5K will take place at Memorial Hall on June 11 at 8:30am.