Eighteen girls decked out in their Halloween finest, ran the fourth annual 5K Girls on the Run on Saturday, Oct. 27, celebrating their fitness after three months of training, and cheered on by a crowd of supporters.
“We ask the girls ‘What makes you happy?’” said Tania Carson, coordinator for GOTR, as she laced up her at shoes, dressed as Fiona from the Disney movie “Shrek”. Carson joined the runners for warm ups at Mt Eccles commons. Carson began as a volunteer with the program, which is sponsored by the Cordova Family Resource Center through the International Girls on the Run, based in North Carolina.
“We look at self-talk,” she said. “How not to engage in negative self-talk has been so successful. They totally call us on it when we complain about having a bad hair day! We play games of cooperation. They learn sometimes you have to start over and try again to reach a goal. I’ve seen them come together, especially with girls who have been here multiple years, their kindness and support to one another has really grown.”
This prevention program is linked to the Alaska Department of Public Safety’s Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
“The girls learn self-confidence, respect, healthy lifestyle, that it’s okay to be different and that it’s important it is to support one another,” Carson said. “The goal is to help all girls feel confident. This year we’ve been focusing on the whole family; sending out newsletters to the parents.”
“The girls are encouraged to have a wholistic view of beauty,” said Nicole Songer, director of Cordova Family Resources. “I have seen them learn to be a voice in the community. We got mini grants from both American Seafoods and Eyak Corp. and this year once again, all 18 girls that participated had their $100 fees to the GOTR organization paid by generous supporters of the program. It is our hope that we can eventually expand to young boys as well if we can find the right resources and program.”
The program combines physical health with life skills. It begins in August for third through eighth graders, with two sessions per week. The curriculum carries through Halloween, culminating with the 5K Halloween run down Orca Road, a closing ceremony, a slideshow of memories and a carnival for everybody at Mt. Eccles Elementary school.
The girls, who chose empowering names to inspire themselves, included “Winner” Willow Clement, 11; “Lucky” Lily Clement, 9; “Amazing” Amyah Kedzierski, 9; “Cool” Camilia Varsas, 8; “Active” Avery Reynolds, 8; “Invincible” Ingrid Fritch, 11; “Joyful” Juliana Fabunon, 8; “Adventurous” Adelaide Botz, 10; “Inspiring” Isabelle Nothstine, 10; “Victorious” Victoria Nothstine, 10; “Fantastic” Phoeobe Tschappat, 10; “Heroic” Hayden Tschappat, 8; “Amazing” Amelia Niles, 8; “Sassy” Salina Smith, 10; “Wonderful” Willow Tiedeman, 10; “Terrific” Taylor Tiedeman 10; and “Marvelous” Marley Todd, 9.
Carolyn Roesbery is a freelance reporter in Cordova. Reach her at email@example.com.