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Corps Member Monday: The Power of Sneakers & Positivity

May 19, 2014

by Manda Wittebort, corps member proudly serving at the JPMorgan Chase Team at Capitol Middle School

As any athlete knows, training isn’t just for your body: your mind makes a difference. And as any adult knows, growing up isn’t just what you experience: your attitude makes a difference. photo4The national nonprofit Girls On The Run recognized this need for young ladies and created a 12-week training program that integrates being active with building up the tools in their “girl-box.” This spring, our girls at Capitol Middle School had their first GOTR team led by a cohort of leaders from City Year, Communities In Schools  LSU graduate students. We trained at two weekly practices using positive, girl power oriented activities. On May 10, 2014, we had the grand finale… a citywide GOTR South Louisiana 5K!

Team Capitol joined with the GOTR team at Merrydale Elementary to compete at the race. Coaches, elementary and middle school girls and their running buddies ran, skipped, hopped and dashed to the finish line in under an hour! Pennington Biomedical Research Facility hosted the event, where over 15 teams participated in the Inspiration Village, before the 3.1 mile race and a delicious pancake celebration breakfast. The Inspiration Village was a group of volunteer-run booths set up for the girls to create positive word bananas, glitter and sparkle their hair and where they filled in the phrase “running makes me…” GOTR15Immediately prior to the race, everyone took part in a jazzy Zumba warm-up and the fearless GOTR staff was introduced. Capitol Middle had three seventh grade girls and three eighth grade girls participate. Two Capitol seventh graders were given photo8the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at the event. Girls On The Run was such an empowering experience for our girls, who often asked to lead the activities at practice and wanted to call team meetings. They arrived bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 7:30 AM on Saturday morning for the race.

Not only was I blessed to run in the race with my beautiful team, but I had a visit from my mom. As I was signing in, she found her way to a volunteer booth and leapt right in to be a positive influence for the girls. As we crossed the finish line, my student darted to my mom and shouts, “We did it Ms. Manda’s mom, we did it!” I appreciated being part of a team that, instead of breeding competition, bred self-esteem and created an opportunity for the girls to build each other up. I hope our girls take these self-esteem and leadership skills to their peers. I’m proud to contribute to their “girl-box.”




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