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SMC hosts 5k promoting self-esteem

Kelly Murphy | Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A commemoration of self-respect and community amongst preteen girls will be celebrated May 25 at Saint Mary’s College, as the first annual Girls On The Run 5k walk/run will be hosted on campus.

Girls On The Run, an international organization with chapters in 42 states and two Canadian provinces, is based on the principle of moving forward in life through the inspiration of fitness.

The organization opened a council in the Michiana area in Jan. 2011 through the help of Jackie Bauter, head coach of the Saint Mary’s cross country team.

Bauter, an ’04 alum and program coach for Girls On The Run’s Michiana Council, said Girls On The Run is about more than promoting fitness.

“Running is not what the program is all about,” she said. “We use running as a way to get the message across in each session. We want to show the girls that running can be an outlet for a bad day.”

Bauter said Girls On The Run is a 10-to-12 week after-school program for girls in the 3rd to 5th grade. She said the girls meet twice a week.

At the end of the program the girls and a running buddy complete a non-competitive 5K run/walk, Bauter said. Through the Swanson Primary Center of South Bend, there are currently 12 girls involved with the Michiana chapter of Girls On The Run.

Bauter said each session has a theme relevant to the girls’ lives, including bullying and gossip. Different activities and demonstrations are completed to help the girls grasp the subject and to see positives in difficult situations.

Each session combines running and walking games with life skills, some including leadership, goal setting, cooperation and healthy eating, Bauter said.

The first four weeks of the curriculum focus on self-reflection, Bauter said. The next session of lessons centers on the importance of cooperation, Bauter said the girls concentrate on learning about community and how they can make a difference in the last set of meetings.

Bauter said she hopes the program will grow in a way beneficial to participants.

“We are about quality over quantity,” Bauter said. “It’s all about the girls and providing the experience for them along with keeping a steady pace of growth.”