Sara Swanson

Girls On the Run – Klager girls complete two 5Ks and so much more

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Girls, coaches, and parent volunteers prepare to run a 5K through Manchester.

Over a period of 10 weeks, a group of Klager girls in the 2nd through 4th grades participated in the program of  positive emotional, social, mental, and physical development which culminated earlier in the month in two 5K runs (or walk/runs)–one around the Village of Manchester, and another through U of M’s North Campus with other area Girls on the Run groups. Although physical fitness was one aspect of the program, the emphasis of the program was on allowing girls to recognize their inner strength. Throughout the season, the girls made new friends, built their confidence and celebrated all that makes them unique. This is the 2nd year Manchester has had a Girls on the Run Chapter.

One of the coaches, Stephanie Celkis explained how she got involved in the program, “When I first heard of this program and about volunteering as a coach, over 2 years ago, I was attracted to it because of the running. I had just started running again and I thought what a great way to get involved with the youth and bond with my daughter, Annabelle.” As she went through the training and learned the core values and mission of Girls on the Run organization, she understood that it was less about running.

“Our core values guide us to be open-hearted, intentional decision makers who embrace differences, lead with an open heart and stand up for ourselves and others,” she stated, “It is so much more then running. Actually it is more about just moving forward and getting active to keep yourself healthy. Running is not required, you can hop, skip, walk, RUN or crawl during our physical activities. But the lessons that are taught along with the physical activities are absolutely beautiful.”

Self-esteem is something the Girls on the Run Program and the coaches work to develop in the girls. Celkis stated, ” I am humbled by the strength of these girls and I am grateful for the opportunity it gives me to reach out to the ones that grow so much in confidence by the end of the program.” Both years she has witnessed one or two girls go from keeping their heads down with body language of zero confidence to holding their heads up, making eye contact, and smiling with confidence.

Celkis stated that she was thankful for Coach Holly who has worked so hard both years to get enough girls to sign up so Manchester can have enough girls to have our own chapter, “I am blessed and honored that she has let me help with her mission to bring such a beautiful program to our Manchester girls.” She also sent out a big thank you to the girls that signed up and to the parents that trust the coaches with their sweet girls.

“We believe that every girl
can embrace who she is,
can define who she wants to be,
can rise to any challenge,
can change the world.

Girls on the Run 5K in Ann Arbor. Photo courtesy of Sam Gurwin,

Girls on the Run 5K in Ann Arbor. Photo courtesy of Sam Gurwin.

Girls on the Run 5K in Ann Arbor. Photo courtesy of Sam Gurwin.

Girls on the Run 5K in Ann Arbor. Photo courtesy of Sam Gurwin.



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