This week I did something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time- I volunteered with Girls on the Run. My previous day job had always prohibited me from getting involved because the groups met after school… wouldn’t it be nice if work let out at 3pm too??
I met my group at the Carter Lawrence elementary school and the girls were anything but shy- full of energy and happy to see a new face. I had wanted to get involved because I joined the track team as a shy 7th grader and it really helped me find myself, build my self esteem and gave me a goals to work towards. Running in many ways shaped the rest of my life, taught me discipline, to push through difficulties or pain to get to my goal and ignited a passion for physical fitness in me. I wanted to share this experience with these girls.
What I didn’t realize is this group is not just about running but also about learning life lessons. This week’s lesson was on gossiping and how hurtful that can be. After a discussion and an exercise on gossiping, we headed to the track where the girls ran drills – sharing gossip- practicing how to say no or change the subject … and then running away across the football field. It was a great lesson and also a creative way to work running in as well.
I was reminded several times that these 8 and 9 year olds are living a much harder life than I was at their age and seeing things I was sheltered from. A couple comments the girls made really struck me and hit this point home. One little girl told her friend “you are acting drunk- have you been drinking?” And another 8 year old told me “you know stealing is always wrong but sometimes it puts dinner on the table”. I can guarantee you I had no idea what ‘drunk’ looked like at their age and I never worried about where dinner was coming from.
I’ll be back to volunteer again because the enthusiasm, brightness and desire to be more in these girls inspired me.