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ISTP Girls on the Run

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“Fun, awesome, cool, amazing”, “I like the snacks and the running”, “I didn’t like running laps but I enjoyed the games”, “the games are fun”, “I didn’t like being tired”, “I liked not caring about what others think”, “I learned that even though other people say things, you have to listen to your heart”, “I learned you can stand up for yourself and not be scared”. That’s what the ISTP PURPLE-POOFY-PANDAS said about Girls On The Run.

Purple-Poofy-Pandas?!  Indeed, Girls On The Run program is all about empowering girls to make their own choices, and that’s the name the group of ISTP 4th and 5th grade girls came up with for their team name this spring… Last year, it was the Crab-a-da-ba-doos!

GOTR (pronounced “GO-ter”) is a nationwide program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident, through interactive lessons integrating self-esteem games with running activities. The program empowers girls to make (emotionally and physically) healthy lifestyles choices. It takes place twice a week for 10 weeks, led by trained volunteer parents following a detailed curriculum, and culminates in completing a 5k run/walk.

GOTR started in North Carolina in 1996, has been in Silicon Valley since 2001, and at ISTP for the 2nd year.  This spring, over 1200 girls in Silicon Valley participated in the GOTR 5k event that took place on Saturday, May 19th at Vasona Park in Los Gatos. It was a giant block party, with smiling enthusiastic girls and their families, beautiful scenery, gorgeous weather, music, food, temporary tattoos, colored hair spray, and lots of supportive cheers! Everyone wore bib #1 and the event (not called “race”) was not timed.  It was fun to see entire families with little siblings, even those in strollers, joining in the festivities.

Even though most participants had never run a mile before, we trained over 10 weeks for completing the GOTR 5k event: girls are invited to walk, run, skip, hop, jump-rope, bear-walk, you get the idea: anything they like as long as they make FORWARD PROGRESS.  Every meeting starts with a designated topic (such as positive self-talk, standing up to peer pressure, choosing our friends, gossip, taking care of our physical and emotional health, …) which is explored through FUN, interactive and cooperative running games (relay, word hunt, etc.). It is followed by the “workout”, and ends with snacks and self-esteem-boosting cheers called energy awards. The program also includes completing a community service. Last year, the ISTP Crab-a-da-ba-doos volunteered at an East Palo Alto community garden, cleaning the chicken coop and weeding/composting. This year’s ISTP Purple-Poofy-Pandas volunteered at a 5k run on the Palo Alto Baylands, benefiting Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, organized by ISTP parent Roger Royse. The girls directed traffic into parking, helped with registration, cheered and pointed the way along the route, and served water at the hydration point. They got to see first-hand what it takes to organize a fun and safe 5k run!

For more information about GOTR, check out: www.girlsontherun.org and the Silicon Valley chapter at www.gotrsv.org  Mark your calendar for next year’s GOTR 5k event on Saturday, May 18th, 2013!  Hope your entire family will join us!

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