A group 25 of H.O. Brittingham Elementary School girls - teachers and students - is “on the run” this spring in Milton.
These third- through fifth-grade students and their teacher-coaches have been meeting twice weekly since late winter as part of the international program Girls on the Run. This character-building program has as its primary goal to instill confidence, perseverance and cooperation in the preadolescent girls who participate.
The program is a transformational learning program for girls in third to eighth grades that teaches life skills through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running games, according to the Girls on the Run website. Like programs in schools across the country, the H.O.B. program will culminate with the girls being physically and emotionally ready to complete a celebratory 5K run Saturday, May 18, on the Riverfront in Wilmington, with similar teams from across the state.
The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness, according to Maizie Silverman, the lead coach of the H.O. Brittingham program. “During our early meetings, we talked about teamwork and how we can build up our friends by encouraging them. It’s really a character-building program with a running component,” said Silverman.
Silverman is assisted by H.O.B. staff members Casey Reynolds, Kristin Shaw, Kara Hoffman and Sandy Chambers, who meet with the girls twice each week, exercising with them and encouraging them to realize the importance of friendship, positive self-image and sticking to a goal - all skills that will serve the girls well as they pass into middle school.
Girls on the Run was established in 1996 in Charlotte, N.C., by Molly Barker and 13 young girls. By 2012, Girls on the Run boasted 200 local councils in 47 states and Canada, with over 75,000 participants.
The coaches expressed their gratitude at the overwhelming response from their school and community. The team’s inaugural season is being funded through a grant from Discover Bank, which has provided financial support for the season, including need-based scholarships, running shoes and transportation to the 5K.
David Monagle from the Delaware Running Company in Wilmington coordinated shoe selection and purchase for each of the H.O.B. participants. “We’re so lucky to have such wonderful people helping us to make this happen,” Silverman said. “Because of this generosity, we were able to include 20 girls instead of the usual 15, and make sure that everyone had good running gear.”
“Our HOB girls are looking forward to crossing the finish line to the cheers of their friends and families. They’re hoping to see lots of familiar faces at the race,” Silverman said. Anyone can register to run the Girls on the Run 5K. Proceeds from the May 18 race benefit the program, supporting scholarships for teams like the one at H.O. Brittingham.
Any local organizations or individuals who would like to help support the HOB runners should contact Silverman at H.O. Brittingham Elementary School at 302-684-8522. Local runners who wish to support the HOB runners by registering for the May 18 race may do so at girlsontherunde.org/gotr-5k/spring-5k.