Checking in With a New Site - Wrapping Up and Getting Ready for the GOTR 5k
Written by Renee Parks, GOTRSTL Program Director
Here at GOTR-STL, it brings us great joy when we have individuals ask us how to bring the program to their school or another location. We have lots of information on our website about how to start a site and our staff is happy to answer any questions! Once you have read over the information on setting up a new site, it is time to fill out our New Site Application. Site applications are due on 5/31 for the fall season and 11/30 for the spring season. We collect the New Site Applications in our office and will let you know shortly after the deadline whether your application is approved. After this process and before the start of the season, a Program Coordinator from GOTR-STL and the main contacts for the new site, sit down and have a New Site Meeting which is a good time for coaches to gather and ask questions and learn more about the ins and outs of being a Girls on the Run St. Louis site.
Periodically this season we’ve been checking in with the Girls on the Run (GOTR) volunteer coaches and team at Bourbon Elementary, and sharing about their experience as they go through first season of supporting the GOTR program (here and here!). As you can imagine – or may know, a first season is full of new experiences and lots of learning, which can lend great insight on the program experience and be beneficial to those interested in starting or supporting a site as volunteer coach.
A couple weeks back, I had the pleasure of connecting with Christy Nolie, who is the GOTR site liaison and coach at Bourbon Elementary (she also happens to be a teacher at the school). I was excited to hear about their team’s experience with a couple of the lessons that occur towards the end of the GOTR curriculum and program.
One of the two lessons I’m referring to is “Practicing our 5k.” This typically occurs during week 8 of the 10-week program. It’s an opportunity for the girls to run/walk a 5k (3.1 mile) distance, consider their areas of physical and emotional improvement so they can do their best at the season-ending GOTR 5k, and learn that hard work does allow us to set a goal and accomplish it! Typically, the practice 5k lesson takes place during a site’s regularly scheduled session and location, however, some sites choose may choose a different location and weekend day to best accommodate the distance and allow for parents and families to attend and support the team.
Coach Christy shared about the practice 5k their GOTR team:
“We had our practice 5k at the park in town [Bourbon, MO], which has a 1/2 mile path. It made it easy to track the distance -- we had to go around 6 times and .1. Plus, it was nice for families and safe for the girls. We did it on a Sunday afternoon so that our families and running partners could be a part of it. It went really well! It was eye opening for some of the girls and their running partners, so it’s a very good idea to have a practice 5k.”
Coach Christy indicated that their girls were really excited about the end of the season GOTR 5k in downtown St. Louis. The coaches got the girls pumped up about it by watching one of our videos highlighting a past 5k – and passing out the girls’ goodie bags. Who wouldn’t be excited about goodie bag filled with stickers, a GOTR water bottle and other fun stuff?!
Also, towards the end of the program season, each GOTR team plans and completes a community impact project, which instills the importance of being an active community member using your gifts and talents to positively impact your community. When I checked in with the GOTR team at Bourbon several weeks back, they were still in the planning stages of their community impact project. At their next GOTR session, the coaches were going to have the girls vote on the project that they’d like to do. Coach Christy said, “They will be choosing between helping out some older people that live near the school, washing school windows, painting the playground, or making Thanksgiving place mats for a nursing home. The girls seemed very excited about these opportunities.” All of those ideas sound wonderful – and a great way to support their local community! I can’t wait to find out what their team did!
I had a couple additional questions for Coach Christie:
Reflecting on your first season experience, what is something you wish you knew or had going into this first season as a GOTR volunteer coach?
“After practicing the 5k, the coaches and I have started running individually with the girls to help with pace and motivation. We feel it would have been beneficial to do this from the beginning. We would run with them some, but did not concentrate on their ability to keep a good pace or perseverance.”
Have you observed changes in the girls over the course of the GOTR program?
“Yes!!! In particular, one girl who has not seen her mother in awhile was very quiet and withdrawn in the beginning of the program. She is now talking more openly and even makes a point to wave or hug the coaches in the hallway when passing. I believe the GOTR program has helped her greatly!
Overall, how has your volunteer coach experience been?
“The coaching experience has been positive! I do not have girls this age, so it was a new and fun experience for me. I loved the lessons and the activities went along perfectly!”
What advice do you have for those interested in getting involved and supporting GOTR at a school/site?
“Become a coach! Don't be scared, it is easy and very rewarding!!!”
So, take Coach Christy’s advice…become a coach! Or get involved in another capacity to support GOTR in your community! We have lots of information on our website about how to start a site if your school does not have the program, become a coach, and other ways to get involved. And our staff is happy to answer any questions you may have along the way.