Local girls to participate in upcoming 5k

As girls cross the finish line of an upcoming 5k, they will be reaching a goal they set months earlier as part of a program that is expanding its reach in Shelby County.

The 2018 Girls on the Run Birmingham 5k will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 28, with the public invited to cheer on the runners or participate.

Girls on the Run is a national organization that serves girls in grades 3-8 through teams at their schools.

“It’s a program to help girls build their self-confidence and learn how to set a goal and accomplish it and the strength that comes from that,” Girls on the Run Birmingham Executive Director Rebecca McWilliams said. “They recognize their own strengths as part of a team of girls supporting and celebrating each other—and how powerful that is.”

Girls on the Run Birmingham supports 27 teams in Shelby, Jefferson and St. Clair counties.

Local teams this spring were based at Oak Mountain Intermediate School and Calera Intermediate School, with plans to add a team at Oak Mountain Elementary School for the fall.

Girls on the Run is not a “running club,” McWilliams stressed, but instead is a physical activity-based positive youth development program that uses running as part of building confidence and an appreciation for healthy decision-making.

Participants begin the 12-week program with a goal of completing the regional 5k.

They meet twice a week in teams of 8-15 girls under the guidance of volunteer coaches who help them learn important life skills through engaging lessons and running activities.

The curriculum focuses on three main themes: “understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork, and understanding how we connect with the world at large.”

Online registration for the 5k closes on Wednesday, April 28, but those interested can register the day of the event for $35.

McWilliams said the run is not competitive.

“There are no winners,” she said. “We celebrate everyone who crosses the finish line.”

For more information about the 5k or the organization, visit GirlsontheRunBham.org.