This has been a really exciting year for Girls on the Run. This spring the organization reached 1 million girls. I recently had the pleasure to meet and speak with Becky Testa, the Council Director of Girls on The Run in Hunterdon, Bucks and Warren Counties. She’s an amazing woman anadvocate for this organization. Their spring 5k race is scheduled for Sunday, May 31, 2015 in Flemington. I encourage you to learn about Girls on the Run and support them. I can tell you that it’s not just about running. It’s about empowering our girls so that they will be able to continue to be joyful, healthy and confident throughout their lives!
Can you tell me a little about your background and how you became involved with Girls on The Run?
My educational and professional background is actually in engineering, product and process development, and project management. I discovered Girls on the Run when reading through a “Runner’s World” magazine while on maternity leave from my position as a project manager at IBM. As luck would have it, two women had just launched a new council in my home county of Hunterdon County, NJ, and I connected with them to start a program in my school district. After coaching my first season in the fall of 2007, I fell in love with the program and wanted to bring it to more girls. That began my Girls on the Run journey.
I know that there’s running involved, but can you tell me more about what Girls on The Run is about?
Girls on the Run is a transformational physical activity-based positive youth development program for girls in grades 3 through 8. We teach life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5K running event. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.
How can I go about signing my daughter up?
We conduct two independent seasons of Girls on the Run every year. Our spring season begins in early-to-mid March, with registration taking place from early February through mid-March. Our fall season begins in mid-September, with registration taking place from early August through mid-September. We currently deliver programs at over 60 host schools, parks, and community centers throughout Hunterdon, Bucks and Warren Counties at least once per year. More information about our program locations and signing up for the program can be found on our website, www.gotrhunterdon.org.
Is there any assistance for families in need, who would like their daughter to be part of the program?
Yes! Girls on the Run turns no girl away from our program due to financial reasons. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, donors, and fundraisers, we are able to keep our registration fees low for all participants AND provide financial assistance to girls who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch and for those whose families who might not qualify for the free and reduced-price lunch program, but are experiencing financial hardship.
What has been most rewarding about Girls On the Run?
For me, the privilege of serving as a coach, as our council’s director, and watching my own girls grow and blossom as participants in the program has brought rewards too numerous to count. As a coach, I’ve seen the girls in my program learn to embrace their inner beauty, stand up for themselves and others, support their teammates, celebrate their differences, and support wonderful causes. As council director, I’ve met hundreds of amazing women and men who share a passion for our mission and give generously of their time and resources to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident, and I hear countless stories from parents and coaches regarding the positive impact the program has had on their girls (and often on them, as well). As a parent, I’ve seen my girls overcome inhibitions and embrace the benefits of physical activity. And I’ve had the privilege of coaching side-by-side with my oldest, now a freshman in college, and seeing her incredible leadership, organizational, and mentorship skills in action. Among the greatest rewards, however, is witnessing the precious smiles of joy and pride in the young, flushed faces of thousands of girls in our program as they approach the finish line of their first 5K – smiles that reflect the realization that “I did this… and I can do anything!”.