Girls On The Run which is a national girl empowerment program with a local chapter, Girls on the Run of Central New York (GOTR CNY), will be finishing up the 8-week program for girls in grades 3 through 5 coming up on June 5 in Oneonta at the 6th Ward Athletic Field. Typically, the program runs for 10 weeks but because of COVID, it had to be trimmed a bit this year.

GOTR has a mission of inspiring girls "to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running." During the program, girls learn lessons from volunteer "coaches" about confidence, character, caring, connections, competence, and contribution.

The 5k run is the culmination of the program and is not a timed event since all participants are number 1. The goal doesn't involve runners competing against each other but rather cooperation as girls encourage each other to reach the finish line. You should see the smiles on the faces of girls in the program as they achieve a goal they've been working on for weeks. It's priceless! I have participated in this event many times and witnessed for myself the amazing empowerment these girls feel as they cross the finish line.

What started out as a small, grassroots operation in Otsego County in 2002 started by Paula Hunt, GOTR CNY has grown over the years and now serves quite a large territory: Chenango, Delaware, Montgomery, Otsego, and Schoharie Counties and has had over 5,000 participants over the past sixteen years. That's amazing and speaks volumes about the success of this program which is very reliant on volunteers.

I spoke recently with GOTR CNY Council Director Heather Morse who started out as a coach for many years. She said as a coach, she wasn't sure who got more out of the GOTR program, her or the girls participating in it. She also remarked on the tremendous growth the girls experience in such a short time. If you are interested in becoming a GOTR coach, volunteers are needed and you can more information about volunteering and the program at girlsontheruncny.org/Volunteer.

If you're a parent and have a daughter in the program's age range whom you think would enjoy GOTR, you are invited to the June 5th 5K event in Oneonta to see for yourselves how much the girls enjoy it. Registration and activities begin at 10:00 am with the race beginning at noon.

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Get all the information you need about the 5k event, the GOTR program, and volunteering at girlsontheruncny.org.

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