This statement is so simple, yet so true. Empowered women have a certain air about them. You can quickly spot them out in the crowd. They exude power, strength, confidence, and fearlessness. These kinds of women inspire you. They make you proud to be a part of the sisterhood. They move you to act, to want to pass along this electricity of energy onto others.
How can I empower other women?
I believe it’s important to be empowered and valued starting at a young age. Young girls are extremely impressionable. If you believe in them, give them the support they need, and allow them to make decisions, they will gain the confidence and have the tenacity to achieve great things. This is exactly why I volunteer for Girls on the Run.
I’m finding myself more and more passionate about supporting brands and programs that grow female empowerment. Before I volunteered with Girls on the Run, I thought it was merely just a fitness program to train young girls on what it takes to complete a 5K. Boy, was I wrong! Little did I know that running plays but just a small part of a much larger curriculum.
Girls on the Run is much more than just completing a 5K. It’s a 10-week program, coached by certified volunteers, offered to young girls in elementary and middle schools (third through eighth grades) that helps girls define their own definitions of strength, both mentally and physically, individually and in numbers. Think sisterhood. I am strong, but together, we are mighty.
It’s merging physical fitness and taking care of your body with self affirmations and discovery that as females, we can achieve anything we put our minds to. This program encourages positivity and belief in one’s limitless potential. It allows girls to identify their own boundaries, set personal goals, speak out, and defy stereotypes. It turns the negative connotation of “like a girl” into a compliment, into a statement that makes you hold your chin up high.
Girls on the Run empowers our young girls to embrace who they are, define what they can be, rise to any challenge, and change the world. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?
This past season, I had the honor of assistant coaching the Garrison Performing Arts’ inaugural Heart & Sole Program, which is the Girls on the Run curriculum catered to middle school girls. I was excited about this program because it took me back to my middle school years, which were some of the most awkward and challenging. I remember how cruel the kids were at this age. You become overwhelmed with self doubt. These years are a very crucial time in which girls begin to lose confidence in themselves. They start to feel pressured by what they think should be societal norms. They start losing their individuality, their sense of self, and become easily discouraged. Most importantly, they lose some of their raw grit and feelings of invincibility, which is where Girls on the Run’s Heart & Sole program comes into play.
We had seven girls participate this season - a small, yet manageable group coming from all walks of life. Throughout the season, I witnessed them all become better friends as they grew quite supportive of one another. I loved hearing their discussions on their insecurities and what steps they would take if put in certain situations. I loved hearing their brute honesty and was proud of how they provided guidance to one another. These girls learned empathy, trust, courage, and belief in themselves and for one another. They would run/walk their laps while discussing different scenarios. I enjoyed these times being silent and observant. Many times, these lessons were a great reminder to focus on my own strengths. Not only was I helping to coach these girls, unbeknownst to them, these seven girls were also inspiring me.
To end the season, we all met this past Saturday, April 28th, at Savannah State’s Wright Stadium to tackle on the last challenge of the program, the Celebration 5K. Seeing all the young girls from our area schools with huge smiles plastered on their faces, lined up with their coaches and schools, was such a happy sight to see. With their loved ones there to support and cheer them on, our Garrison girls were all bright-eyed and full of energy ready to run. I was so proud to see their determination on the course, many running in pairs because of the bond formed during our lessons. It was so gratifying to see them sprint through the finish line - all smiles as they showed us their medals, proudly symbolizing their accomplishments in which they had been training for the past 10 weeks.
And who knows? This electricity, this energy - just maybe they will pass along what they learned to their own friends and family, continuing the truth in the statement - Empowered Women Empower Women.