Inside the GOTR Curriculum
The Girls on the Run Curriculum is split into three sections; self, team and community. This is the first of a three part series by Sam Rhoades, Office Administrator and long-time coach which outlines different aspects of each section of the program! (Check out part 2 and part 3!)
Getting to Know Each Other:
Have you ever felt uncomfortable at the thought of starting something new? Or nervous about meeting new people? Worried that you won’t fit in? The first day of Girls on the Run practice can sometimes feel that way. Even though most girls know GOTR as a very welcoming group, and they’ve likely heard from someone that it is really fun, and a parent or a teacher told them to just be themselves – it can still be hard to dive right in. The first section of the GOTR curriculum was created with those human fears in mind. We are called as coaches, and as participants, to welcome each other into the practices and to begin the transformation from strangers into friends.
First day jitters? Maybe even first month jitters. Some of us are new to running and some of us new to playing together. We spend the first four weeks of practice learning one another’s names and our favorite foods. “Do you like to dance?” “Where were you born?” “Do you live in a house or an apartment?” “Do you have any pets?” “What is something that is really hard for you to do?” “Can anyone speak more than one language?” “Can anyone do a handstand?” There is so much to know! We are all so unique, and we also have some things in common. The coaches ask: “Clearly we have a diverse group of girls in our program with different gifts and talents. Why do you think a Girl on the Run celebrates diversity?” My teammates answer: “Because we like ourselves more when we do!” “Because it makes our team stronger.” “Because I can always find someone to help.” “It’s more fun that way!”
Lessons One through Nine also teach us more about the Girls on the Run program and what it means to be a Girl on the Run. In one lesson we pretend to have giant sparkly power cords to plug into our brains; in another we imagine we are each as brilliant as a star. We write negative statements we may have said about ourselves and we throw them in a pretend monster’s mouth. We learn how to name our emotions, and we talk about how some are comfortable and some are not. We skip and hop through many relay races and slap hands in very enthusiastic high-fives. We play charades and make up skits and laugh and talk about what is “healthy” and what is not. We ask again and again: “what’s for snack today?” And, of course, we run.
At the end of every lesson, we give each other “energy awards.” We nominate one another, and sometimes ourselves, for something we are grateful for, or for something that surprised us and made us feel great. We gather in a circle and roar like lions or make our hands into sparkly firecrackers. We make up cheers that make no sense to anyone at all, but which convey an amazing feeling of strength and joy (or just plain old rowdy silliness). And by the end of week four, we no longer feel as nervous. We are no longer strangers to each other. By mid-season, we are ready to call each other “team.”