MAYVILLE - A new afterschool program at Chautauqua Lake Central School is redefining the pursuit of happiness.
CLCS introduced a small group of middle school girls to a fall semester program called Girls on the Run. The program is sponsored by the non-profit Girls on the Run organization which, according to its website, dedicates itself to creating a world where every girl can know and activate her limitless potential and is free to pursue her dreams.
A total of three students participated in the inaugural Girls on the Run event at CLCS: sixth-graders Shannon McKee and Megan Snider and seventh-grader Rebekah Novak. The afterschool program is open to students in grades sixth through eighth and provides a 24-lesson curriculum integrating life lessons and running over the course of eight weeks.
On Nov. 10, the Girls on the Run afterschool program at Chautauqua Lake Central School participated in the Lindsay’s Legacy 5K Run in Buffalo, N.Y. Pictured from left: Megan Snider, sixth-grader; Emily Perkins, coach; Jennifer Davis, coach; Shannon McKee, sixth-grader.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
The girls met two times a week and focused on character building activities such as: goal setting, dealing with peer pressure, having a good self-esteem, managing friendships and refraining from gossip.
"Something that really surprised me was that we actually learned things," said Megan. "I thought we would be mostly running but when they did lessons, that really surprised me."
"We did an activity about stress where every time we would run one lap, we would get two tools teaching us how to deal with stress," said Shannon.
The Girls on the Run program was coached and its curriculum administered by secondary school teachers Emily Perkins and Jennifer Davis. According to Davis, who initially registered CLCS with the Girls on the Run organization, the curriculum has helped to strengthen the girls physically as well as mentally.
"We met twice a week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3-4:30 and the general lesson plan format usually starts with a warm-up activity," said Davis. "Some of the different topics they address are self-esteem, not feeling pressured by peers, they touch on drugs and alcohol, but mainly just being confident in your strengths and supporting each other. Then they have different running games that really helped us learn a lot about the girls, so the running is almost like a secondary part of the activity. And then the middle part is gradually working up the running distance."
"We had a ball," said Perkins. "It was really nice to have this small group because the girls got to know each other really well and we got to know them. It was a great way to teach them that exercise allows them to be better in other areas of their lives, too. Our plan right now is to run every fall and hopefully the group will continue to grow."
The eight week program culminated in a 5K run that Shannon and Megan participated in. On Saturday, Nov. 10, approximately 2,500 people representing the Girls on the Run organization went to Buffalo to participate in the Lindsay's Legacy 5K Run, according to Perkins.
"I was proud of the girls because each of them did this on their own without their pack of friends that they knew wanted to do this," said Shannon's mother, Lisa McKee.
The Girls on the Run program is planning to operate during the fall semesters at CLCS with a registration fee of $150. To learn more about the Girls on the Run program and organization, visit: www.girlsontherun.org.