Eighty three girls who have been training for 10 weeks will run a 5K Saturday morning, which will begin at the Boathouse in downtown Wichita.
The runners have been part of a program sponsored by the non-profit Girls On The Run of Sedgwick County, which came to Wichita last February and does more for these girls than just teach them how to race.
Incorporated into the training routines are lessons to help young girls deal with real world, difficult situations like bullying.
Council Director Christy Thomas says the group hopes to give the girls tools to deal with conflicts and decision making.
“The first few sessions are about the girl,” says Thomas. “So we talk a lot about making choices, that we all have choices and if we make a bad choice there are consequences to those choices.”
Maintaining a healthy body image is also an important part of the 24-lesson curriculum.
“We talk a lot about what makes us unique, how it’s OK to be different, how boring life would be if we all looked the same or acted the same or believed in the same thing,” says Thomas.
But there is still a lot of running, and Thomas says she tells the girls speed isn’t important.
“it doesn’t matter if you run, walk, hop, skip, jump…as long as you’re moving forward. And that’s something that we really, really stress. It does not matter what your time is. It’s so unimportant that girls know their time on race day. It’s about setting goals and finishing it,” says Thomas.
The program, which is staffed completely by volunteers, has five sites in Wichita. By fall, they expect to expand to 17 with more than 300 participants.
More information about Girls on the Run on their website.