Girls on the Run teaches much more than running at Detroit YMCA

Self-confidence, self-esteem, anti-bullying, it's all part of a running program that teaches girls how to be proud of themselves and also how to run a 5K. 

It looks like girls simply running around the track at Webber Elementary in Lake Orion, but this is far more than a running team. These girls are learning life lessons.

"Be confident in yourself and you can do anything if you believe you can," said 11-year-old Madison.

It's called Girls on the Run, a nonprofit program for girls in third through eighth grade. It's run in partnership with the YMCA, either at the YMCA or at school. They meet twice a week and with teamwork they learn about embracing positive body image and making good choices. 

"I like the experience or working with other girls and getting to learn the friendship and communicating with them," said 10-year-old Erica. 

It's more than running. On this day the lesson is about using visualization and imagination to cope with challenges. 

"As they feel sad or gloomy or they feel bad they made a bad choice, they let those good thoughts take over those negative thoughts," said Dawn Burks from Webber Elementary School. 

While learning to be mentally strong for themselves and others, the girls are also in training, learning physical strength.

"I'm hoping to be a better runner overall and be more confident with myself," 10-year-old Joslyn said.

After ten weeks it will end with a celebratory 5k, just like this one in 2013. Girls, if you think you can't finish a 5k, you're probably wrong. 

"A lot of the time we are at the beginning of the season now the girls feel like they're prepared to run the 5 K run at the end and they don't feel like they can do it, but they've accomplished a goal and they can really do it," said Burks.

Even FOX 2's Deena Centofanti's girl on the run is feeling extra confident. 

She told Deena she'd be running faster than her when the class ends and Deena couldn't keep up with her in the 5K.

This week is the last week to sign up for girls on the run. If it's not offered at your elementary school, it is offered at YMCA branches. Click here to learn more.
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