Running group helps local girls develop their inner qualities

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Some local elementary students are developing a love of running while learning to love themselves a little more, too.

Emilie Domaille works in the library at Longfellow Elementary School. She helped bring a program called Girls on the Run there a couple years ago. Coach Domaille doesn’t consider herself to be a runner, but that’s not what this program is about. Domaille says, “I am absolutely not a runner. You can ask me to walk any day of the week and I’ll walk as far as you want to go but running is just not my thing. A parent brought it up to the PTA and I thought if this was here, I would absolutely put my daughter in this program. Someone should definitely take this on. When no one else stepped up, Mrs. Wagar and I said let’s do this for the girls because the girls really need it. This is season 4 and we’re already signed up for 5 next season.”

Lilyanna De La Cruz is a Longfellow 3rd grader. She says, “I love running because everyday they teach us a new thing about how to be a better person. Before we run, we set a goal of how many laps you want to run outside or in the gym. You set a goal. You just want to reach that goal. If you don’t, you just keep trying.”

The program lasts for 10 weeks each fall and spring, ending in a 5K race at Mall of America. Along the way, these kids are developing self esteem, strength of character and a concern for others.

Jayleen Hill is a Longfellow 3rd grader. She says, “When someone is having a hard time, in Girls on the Run they teach us to help the person and if they feel left out, to ask them if they want to play.”

The girls invited their adult running partners to join them in a practice 5K at Longfellow after school on May 13th. Elizabeth and AD Gerhard were there running with their 4th grade daughter, Clara. Elizabeth says, “AD and I have been running since high school. It’s neat we can do this together and support her through it and see how much she’s grown. The first time she ran this, a lot of it was getting her through. This time I couldn’t even keep up. She beat me by a good 3 or 4 minutes across the line.”

Coach Domaille says, “I have just seen the confidence grow so much and a calm come over the girls. This is life lessons that they really need and if this is where they need to get it, let’s get it out there.”

In addition to Longfellow, there are currently Girls on the Run programs in Stewartville, Kasson, John Adams Middle School and Willow Creek Middle School. There are more than 200 locations in the Twin Cities. If you think Girls on the Run might be a good addition to your school or community, you can learn more here. The deadline to sign up for fall participation is June 1st.

Jess Abrahamson

Jess Abrahamson

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