VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — In South Georgia, an after-school program teaches girls to run away from self-doubt and towards self-empowerment, strengthening the mind and body.
"Confidence in yourself, decision making, how to maintain healthy relationships," said Lauren Hurley, the executive director of Girls on the Run South Georgia.
All things the Girls on the Run South Georgia's afterschool program teaches students in elementary and middle school.
Trained coaches, many of them teachers, follow a curriculum that integrates running.
"It is all about character building," Hurley said. "But running plays a key role in the whole curriculum because it is a great way for girls to physically set a goal and meet a goal."
Girls on the Run is in every elementary and middle school in Lowndes, Lanier, Brooks, and Cook counties.
Pre-pandemic, the girls met in person twice a week, but COVID-19 forced the organization to make huge adjustments to keep the program going.
"There are no after school activities happening on any of these campuses, and we have turned to a virtual season that includes virtual coaching," said Hurley. "Anything we would do on a normal lesson, but now we are on a Zoom call with these girls."
A program built on camaraderie, bonding, and face to face communication and participation reinventing itself in a new virtual world. Hurley says it's been a challenge.
"Our registration for the fall, we usually have about 250-300 girls, we now only have 24 girls on a virtual school this season," Hurley said.
Hurley wants everyone to know it's still the same program, they are just adapting to the times and the results continue to be immeasurable.
"This gives us the opportunity to shape and mold these girls into becoming powerful women," said RaShawnda Lewis, a coach and board member at Girls on the Run. "To be able to say what they mean and mean what they say and not be afraid to be who they are."
Girls on the Run South Georgia's main source of income is their fundraisers which have been canceled due to COVID-19.
The fundraiser's main goal is to provide scholarships for the students, with 60 percent of the girls receiving a full scholarship to the program.
Community donations are welcome and greatly appreciated. If you'd like to donate or volunteer to Girls on the Run South Georgia, click here.