Thomas County Middle School recently became the first official Girls on the Run (GOTR) program in Thomasville which helps inspire and empower girls in third to eighth grade.
The goal of GOTR, a national non-profit organization, is to help girls build confidence within themselves and foster care and compassion for self and others, while building social, emotional, and physical skills.
One of the components is physical empowerment so the girls were training to finish a 5K at the end of the season. In April, 32 GOTR participants, under the direction of their seven coaches, had the opportunity to practice their 5K.
Volunteer coaches, such as TCMS Language Arts Teacher Rena Eason, suit up in their fitness attire and cheer the kids on. At each practice, they used clever tactics to encourage the girls to keep going.
"It was encouraging and inspiring to see parents, staff, coaches, and community members come out and support our girls in a big way," Eason said. "All of the girls completed their 5K before school was out. It was amazing to see the support poured over our teams as girls were crossing the finish line!"
Thomas University Women's Soccer Team created posters for the 5K event and helped create chalk art on the race course to help motivate and inspire the girls. MERIT kids volunteered hours to create posters for all the girls, stuff goody bags, and create a lap board to mark every lap completed by each runner.
Eason added, "It was great to see the teamwork among the girls as they encouraged each other to keep moving forward and finish their race. Our theme for the race was,'You are stronger than you think,' and they were!"
TCMS has seven staff members who serve as GOTR coaches. These women provide snacks, give an inspiring lesson, and then incorporate running along with a fun physical activity/games into the lesson to empower the girls. The coaches are Rena Eason, Katie Buechner, Kathy Swearingen, Amanda Eaves, Lisa Clements, Melissa Butler, and Kathie Craven.
Additionally, there are 22 staff members at TCMS who serve as GOTR encouragers. They write inspiring and encouraging notes to the girls each week. The Girls on the Run program will continue next school year.