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Local Highschooler Makes a Difference with Girls on the Run
Girls on the Run Serving Greater Kansas City is a member of Nonprofit Connect. GOTR is dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. Learn more about Girls on the Run Serving Greater Kansas City.
At Girls on the Run Serving Greater Kansas City, we inspire girls in 3rd – 8th grade to be more joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates movement and running. Each fall and spring, girls meet in small groups twice a week to learn new life skills, such as standing up for themselves and others or the stress relieving benefits of exercise, while training for a 5K. At the end of the 8-week season, they walk away with a sense of increased confidence and self-esteem from completing a physical goal.
This impact would not be possible without the help of hundreds of volunteer coaches throughout the Kansas City metro area who lead Girls on the Run practices in their communities. Every year, we hear how our programs impact our coaches just as much as our girls.
At the end of each season, girls work together to plan and complete a community impact project. It is our hope that this inspires girls to build lives of purpose and to continue to make meaningful contributions to their communities now and as they grow. We also hope to inspire girls to discover the social and emotional benefits of volunteering at a young age.
Megan Yates, a local high school student and Girls on the Run coach, embodies this lesson. Last fall, she served as a mentor to local elementary school girls. Seeing someone closer to their age helps show our girls that you’re never too young to be a leader.
“Being a young woman myself, I see firsthand the benefits that GOTR provides to these young girls,” Megan said. “Over the course of the 2019 fall season, I saw these girls grow in confidence and compassion. They opened up to me, the other coaches, their peers, and their selves. It was an amazing thing to witness, and I can’t help but feel proud to be a part of their journey.”
Megan Yates (pictured on the right) helps one of the girls on her team complete her first 5K.
2020 was a year like no other for Girls on the Run. Waves of COVID-19 cancellations and uncertainty regarding afterschool programming, not only affected our ability to serve our girls, but it also impacted how our volunteers engaged with us. Megan could not serve as a coach this past fall, but still felt moved to continue to help Girls on the Run reach our girls when they needed lessons of confidence and resilience. So instead, she became a SoleMate.
SoleMates are Girls on the Run volunteers who train for a physical activity challenge of their choice while raising critical funds to support more girls in our community. It mirrors our programs by giving volunteers an opportunity to work towards a goal while making a meaningful contribution to their community.
For every holiday and her birthday, Megan asked for donations to Girls on the Run instead of gifts for herself. She shared with her friends and family the smiles she saw from girls who crossed the finish line at their first 5K. She told them about hearing the girls learn important life skills such as identifying their emotions and practicing positive self-talk. By the end of her fundraising campaign, Megan raised enough funds to support two full program scholarships for a girl in the Kansas City area.
“Although it may sound silly, giving to an organization that I love so dearly was one of the best gifts I have ever received,” Megan said. “GOTR has changed my life, and that is strictly from a volunteer perspective. However, I promise that every girl who participates in this program loves it just as much as I do.”
Boone Elementary’s Girls on the Run team poses together before one of their practices.
Megan is a testament to the power of engaging young people as volunteers. Volunteering for Girls on the Run didn’t just look good on Megan’s resume. It gave her a chance to mentor girls in her community and showed her the power of her own voice. Volunteering gave Megan the chance to discover how she can continue to be a leader.
“Participating with GOTR has allowed me to combine many interests of mine; helping young kids, being active, and taking on a leadership role are just a few examples,” Megan said. “In a world constantly changing, it is so awesome to know I am making a difference in the lives of others around me, especially in the lives of young girls.”
GOTR is proud to serve the Kansas City metro area and the girls who live inside it. We are working hard inspire girls to discover their limitless potential. We hope you will connect with us, and discover how you too can inspire the girls around you. Learn more at our website.
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