Twice a week, 20 girls from Lake Forest Central Elementary School near Felton stay after school to participate in a Girls on the Run program.
Sara Croce, the school secretary, is the certified coach who guides these 4th and 5th grade girls through a character-building fitness program that culminates in a 5K event on Nov. 17 at Dover Downs.
Although there’s been an active Girls on the Run program here for five seasons, this is the first year for a partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware. The Food Bank provides an after-school meal, one the participants eat before the activities get under way.
While there’s a physical component to Girls on the Run – training for the 5K, there’s also time for connection, discussions, and activities. Participants’ parents pay an income-based fee to the 20-session program, including the 5K entry.
On a recent afternoon, Ms. Croce led a discussion about friendship and communication, specifically strategies for communicating feelings.
Girls on the Run Executive Director Kim Chitty said she was happy to learn about the after-school meals program through Food Bank of Delaware’s Children’s Meal Coordinator Kim Dickerson.
“I was thrilled. The girls were in need of food, and it was a challenge,” said Ms. Chitty.
Statewide, Girls on the Run includes 61 teams or 872 girls in the fall and 124 teams involving 1,655 girls in the spring.
“Since 30 percent of the girls come from homes with less than $20,000 income, this snack from the Food Bank is tremendous,” she said. “And the coaches are thrilled too. I can’t tell you how much this means.”
According to the program website, Girls on the Run includes more than a running event. Coaches lead team “research-based curricula which includes dynamic discussions, activities and running games, …develop essential skills to help them navigate their worlds and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness.”