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Sugar House Journal

Girls on the Run at Beacon Heights

Mar 10, 2016 10h33 ● By Bryan Scott

By Natalie Mollinet | [email protected]

Sugar House - It’s time to “run like a girl” for the female students at Beacon Heights. A new program is being brought around to help female students gain confidence in a happy, healthy way. 

The Girls on the Run (GOTR) program has a mission to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” 

GOTR started in North Carolina in 1996 and now helps more than 168,000 girls in cities all across North America, including here in Sugar House, to help the female students of Beacon Heights find their potential and happiness through running. 

Tina Dinh is a fifth-grade teacher at Beacon Heights who brought the program to her former school, Rose Park Elementary. After she saw the great success she had with it there, she wanted to bring it to Beacon Heights. 

“I focused on teaching positive body image, making good choices and empowering them to do something that would make a positive impact on others,” Dinh said. “The program has brought friendship, boosted confidence and created lifelong runners.” 

The nonprofit program here in Utah plans to have 1,800 girls involved at 120 sites, Beacon Heights being included. 

GOTR starts with helping girls better understand who they are and what’s important to them, and then looks at building healthy teams and relationships. They show how girls can positively change the world. The girls only meet twice a week, and certified coaches teach the girls 24 lessons that come in three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and understanding. 

Heidi Morton, who is over the Utah division of GOTR, said that the program has also had a lot of positive feedback from parents. A survey was conducted surveying 1,200 girls and their parents, and 96 percent of parents said that the program was a positive experience for their daughter, while 98 percent said they viewed their coach as a positive role model for their daughter. 

“It’s easy and simple and really just a tool to get out and move. It’s not really about training girls to be runners or athletes, but to help boost their self confidence,” Morton said. 

Morton said she gets comments all the time from mothers saying they wished they had the program when they were girls.

Studies show that girls start to have a lower self-esteem when reaching third through eighth grades.

“Girls really try to act like their peers and talk like them,” Morton said.

The GOTR program helps bring out their own character strength, and she feels like at these ages they can grab them and help them celebrate their uniqueness. 

At the end of each season, the girls and their running friends complete a 5K, which gives the girls a tangible sense of achievement, as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals. Results include healthy, confident girls.

Third- through eighth-grade girls can be involved in GOTR, while at Beacon Heights the program is open to girls from third through sixth grade. The girls have been running and building relationships since Feb. 25, and the girls are enjoying it. 

“Girls on the Run makes girls feel good about themselves – any girl, anywhere can appreciate it. That is why I continue to support the program and bring it back to Beacon Heights year after year,” Dinh said.