Hundreds support youth empowerment at Girls on the Run 5K

Hampshire County

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Girls don’t just run the world, they also run in the world.

“Girls on the Run” of western Massachusetts held their end-of-season 5K Saturday at Smith College in Northampton.

Their mission: to inspire young girls to be healthy, joyful and confident.

One local principal had 12 students running in the 5K for their second season with the program.

“It’s just awesome,” Jill Phelan, principal of Highland Elementary School told 22News. “You know it’s not so much about the running as it is about teaching the girls teamwork and how to have confidence in themselves and be strong students, strong women for the future.”

Over 600 girls from 44 schools ran down a support tunnel full of family and friends Saturday. Another 1,000 running buddies and 180 volunteer coaches also participated in the event to support girls.

Those numbers don’t even include the hundreds of supporters at the event to cheer on the runners.

“I felt proud that I finished,” one Paper Mill Elementary student expressed. “I was one of the first students at Paper Mill who went through that finish line and I’m happy that people cheered me on and I felt really supported.”

Girls on the Run is a physical activity based, positive youth development program for girls in 3rd to 8th grade. The 10 week program is in schools in all four counties of western Massachusetts and is growing every year.

Council Director Alison Berman told 22News, “Our first season we had 90 girls and this year we’re going to serve 1,600 to 1,800 girls. Between our fall and our spring season.”

They don’t turn anyone away from the program and over half of their participants receive financial assistance.

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