How can a teacher give a student confidence, instill self-esteem, and serve as a positive role model for healthy living, while following the demands of a fast-paced academic curriculum?
Lakeshore Elementary School teachers Amanda Vaughan, Olivia Birk and Elise Brockett have found coaching Girls on the Run offers one solution. They started an after-school volunteering Girls on the Run Club for third to fifth-grade girls. The purpose of LSE’s running club Girls on the Run team is to positively impact young girls before starting middle school by teaching self-respect and healthy living through the power of running.
“I think it’s very important for girls to have positive role models that will provide them with the tools they need to develop self-esteem, confidence, and a healthy lifestyle.” Brockett said. “It’s great that we can provide a program for the girls that will have such a long-lasting impact on their outlook on different social and emotional situations throughout their lives.”
Vaughan said she likes being able to help the girls with their struggles associated with self-confidence and peer pressure. “This program helps the girls because it gives them the tools to respond appropriately, by fixing it or figuring it out.” Vaughan said.
This is the first semester that GOTR is being promoted at Lakeshore Elementary. It is a 10-week program. Participants do a 30-minute workout followed by running. The GOTR Greater Houston provides lesson plan activities for teachers. Some of these topics from the lesson plans are on how to be a good friend, how not to be a bully, or how to stop and take deep breaths before responding to a stressful or conflicted situation. Most of the girls have completed 15 laps or 2.5 miles this spring semester. The 5K run is on May 3 at Uptown Park with GOTR Greater Houston teams.
“Teaching fourth grade allows me to see the issues that girls at this age go through, such as peer pressure and self-esteem concerns that I wish they didn't have to deal with,” Birk said.
The coaches follow a lesson plan from the Girls on the Run Greater Houston, which includes an end-of-the-year service project that the girls choose in their community. In addition, parents receive a guidebook on why GOTR exists and to explain what the organization does and how it benefits their daughter. Parents can participate from the guidebook’s lesson plan overview with open-ended questions which allows for conversation between parent and daughter to be more involved in her life and development.
"If you go to Girls on the Run you will have fun,” Kylie Aaron, LSE third-grader said. “They teach you that a girl is her own person, things that a girl should be, and what she's not. Beauty is inside and out."