Westgate Elementary Girls on the Run team gets pumped for the big one

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Despite the mercury pushing 80, the 11-member Westgate Elementary Girls on the Run team was unfazed as they gathered Monday afternoon in the schoolyard to begin training for the upcoming county-wide 5K, set for June 2 in Everett.

“We’ve got 496 girls set to compete that day,” said organizer Megan Wolfe.

A nationwide program that began 22 years ago, Girls on the Run  provides a healthy, inclusive, non-threatening place for young women to get a better understanding of themselves, build healthy relationships, and ultimately connect with and shape the world they live in. And it all starts with running.

“We use running as a way to teach life skills,” explained Wolfe. “The running itself is non-competitive. We don’t time our runners and we don’t keep score. The goal is to complete the run, be outdoors, be healthy, and have a good, positive experience. And along the way, girls learn to be confident, joyful and healthy.”

In addition to running, the girls take on service projects in the community, which feeds into the overall program goal of building healthy relationships and positive self-images.

While the national program has been going for more than 20 years, Girls on the Run in Snohomish County is relatively new. Beginning only three years ago with 40 girls, it has grown to almost 500 girls based at 31 schools and two additional locations, including the Edmonds Frances Anderson Center, where girls who are home schooled or attend private schools can join in.

This explosive growth has created an immediate need for “running buddies,” women who can take some time out of their schedules for anything from a full season to a single day, perhaps join the girls for a run, help inspire them, and provide positive role models. If you can help, it’s as easy as going to the Girls on the Run Snohomish County website, clicking “volunteer” and signing up. Or email Megan Wolfe directly at [email protected].

“Girls on the Run inspires girls to take charge of their lives and define the future on their terms,” said Wolfe. “It’s a place where girls learn that they can. No limits. No constraints. But plenty of opportunities to be remarkable.”

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

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