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Corps Member Monday: Girls on the Run at Merrydale Elementary School

October 7, 2013

By: Kate Sheeder proud corps member serving on the Albemarle Foundation Team at Merrydale Elementary School

As a child, I played soccer. A lot. I played on a travel team starting in the third grade. We competed all across New Jersey and practiced at least twice a week. My favorite part about soccer was playing defense. My least favorite part—running. Running laps was torture and doing sprints was the absolute worse.

Let’s fast forward ten years.  I no longer play soccer, but I do run. A lot. I compete in a variety of races around Louisiana and try my best to run everyday after work. My love from running is a direct result of my active childhood. Even though I hated running laps and sprints as a kid, I was still running throughout soccer practice and games.

As a corps member last year, I was concerned about the lack of physical activity many of my girls at Merrydale Elementary School received. The majority of my girls did not belong on a sports team and at recess they would just stand around and talk. This year, I knew I wanted to change that and introduce an active lifestyle to our female students.

Over the summer I reached out to Girls on the Run of South Louisiana. Girls on the Run is a national non-profit that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident by using a fun curriculum, which creatively integrates running. At the end of each semester, girls participate in a 5k race. The program sounded like a perfect fit for Merrydale and, luckily, we were able to start a team this year.

The Girls on the Run team at Merrydale includes sixteen girls from third through fifth grade. Every Tuesday and Thursday we practice for an hour and a half after school. Each practice begins with a discussion topic such as positivity, confidence or beauty. After our group discussion, we do a warm up activity then stretch. Next, all the girls participate in a running activity. We usually run a series of laps around the basketball court so that our team will be physically ready for the 5k race in December. After the run, the team stretches and enjoys a healthy snack.

Coaching a Girls on the Run team has been a fabulous experience thus far. It’s fantastic to see how excited our team is to run and exercise. More than that, it’s inspiring to see these girls overcome physical challenges such as running eight laps or doing twenty-five sit-ups. The determination these girls have to complete their first ever 5k in December is amazing.

Even though I disliked running as a child, it’s encouraging to see my students fall in love with it. I am so eager to see how their running develops over the next few weeks!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Keli Jacobi permalink
    October 7, 2013 2:47 pm

    Great blog, Kate. I’m so proud of your efforts and all the City Year corps at Merrydale. I am training for my next 5K right now and believe very much in its power to transform mind, body and spirit.

  2. October 7, 2013 8:27 pm

    Glad I didn’t turn you off from running permanently. You always did it with determination and never quit. Proud of you passing it forward.
    Coach Fox

  3. Cassidy Bowers permalink
    October 12, 2013 7:45 pm

    This is a really amazing idea to bring into school. I ran a marathon at 16 and have been coaching since I was 13, so the importance of health has been part of my life for what feels like forever. I hope I have the chance to help in an activity like this next year if I get a corps position.

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