At the sound of the word, "GO," a gaggle of 15 Jefferson Elementary School girls sprint as a pack across the field for their bi-weekly Girls on the Run practice.
"What would you say if your friend told you to ignore the new girl at school because she looked weird?" I asked.
"I would say, 'That's not very nice. Maybe she's nervous about being new. Let's ask her to eat lunch with us,'" said Loving Lila.
"Great answer! You can run to Coach Kamal for your next question," I said.
From bragging or skipping homework to pressure to wear certain clothes or look a certain way, each girl considered a scenario and thought about how they would respond the "Girl on the Run way."
"If a friend asked me to skip homework to watch a movie instead, I'd say, 'Let's do our homework first and then we can watch it,'" Excellent Eloise said.
"If someone started bragging about how good they were at running, I'd say, 'I'm glad you are good at that. I think I'm a good runner too,'" Lovely Livvy said.
These girls, ages 8-10, are using running as a tool to build confidence, think positively and create a lifelong habit with every lap around the school.
They've learned how to respond to peer pressure, to be grateful for the good things in their lives and to stand up for themselves.
Through every life lesson they are building miles and friends along the way. So far, each girl is able to keep pace for 2 miles as they build up to a 5K in November.
"I've never enjoyed an activity as much as I do with Girls on the Run," Super Sophie said during a recent Saturday practice. "I usually hate waking up early on Saturdays but not for this!"
Their coaches, Lucky Liz (that's me) and Krazy Kamal, couldn't be happier to have this group of amazing girls to run with every Tuesday and Saturday. They are inspirational!
Please cheer them on in the comment stream below with some encouraging words as they continue to train for their upcoming race!
Click on the link to read more about our Girls on the Run group.