Girls on the Run 5K supports healthy, confident girls

The Girls on the Run Community 5K is on Saturday, May 9 at Hoover's Veterans Park. (Contributed)

The Girls on the Run Community 5K is on Saturday, May 9 at Hoover’s Veterans Park. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HOOVER—After months of preparation and training, 260 third through fifth grade girls from across Shelby and Jefferson counties are ready to accomplish their goal of completing a 5K race. Community members are invited to join them and cheer them on at the Girls on the Run Community 5K on May 9.

The race will kick off at 8 a.m. in Hoover’s Veterans Park, an optional group warm up will be held at 7:30 a.m. Music and fun activities will follow the race.

The 5K run is the main fundraising event for Girls on the Run, an organization that seeks to empower girls to lead happy, confident and healthy lives through discussions, activities and goal setting, Girls on the Run Birmingham Executive Director Catherine Gregory explained.

Girls in third through fifth grade may sign up for the 10-week Girls on the Run program.

“They meet with trained volunteer coaches who lead them through a national curriculum,” Gregory said.

At the beginning of the program, the girls set a goal to complete a 5K. Throughout the 10-weeks, the girls meet in groups of eight to 15 to train.

“From the very beginning of the program, they set the goal of completing a 5K,” Gregory said. “It’s a big goal, and they’ve been training for it.”

Throughout the process, they also build confidence and are “prepared with skills” to make “good, healthy choices,” “be a good friend” and stand up to bullying and pressure from peers and social media, Gregory explained.

Girls on the Run is an international organization with councils in 47 states and Canada. The Birmingham-area council began in 2011 and expanded to serve girls in Shelby County in 2013. This 10-week spring session had 260 girls from 14 schools, including Pelham’s Valley Intermediate School, and 65 volunteer coaches.

“This is our largest group to date,” Gregory said. “They’ll all come together (as a entire group) for the first time Saturday.”

All proceeds from the race benefit Girls on the Run Birmingham, and help to provide scholarships and sneakers for participants in need.

“We provide scholarships for girls who cannot fully pay (for the $150 program), so no girl is turned away,” Gregory said.

The entry fee for the Girls on the Run Community 5K is $28 until the week of the race. For more information and to sign up, visit Raceplanner.com/register/index/GOTR2015?sid=e868521a5de24bdfb43b96d9f7cdd73d.