I'm not a runner. I'm lucky I don't trip every day while walking. I tried once, and hurt myself (running, not walking). I've accepted it. However, and despite the fact that my tween is following in my genetic footsteps, I *love* the idea of her learning to run. Overcoming the physical obstacles and finding herself feeling empowered on the other side. Yes, yes, I think that is me living vicariously through her. But isn't that parenthood?
Several years ago a good friend started an amazing group for young girls called Title IX Running Club. But running isn't the main point; empowerment is. In the interest of raising healthy kids, mentally and physically, their mission is to equip these girls not only with a physical outlet, but with tools they can use in their everyday life as they learn how to navigate the world. One of the coaches was gracious enough to let me interview her about their award-winning Club.
Me: Having started this (Moms Anonymous) blog for preteen/tween moms who are navigating this often emotional and ever-changing time in their lives, I immediately thought of Title IX Girls. As a Mentor Coach and Head Coach, can you tell us what you're all about and how your club is different from other running clubs?
We're a running club for girls ages 9 - 15, based in Cambridge, MA. Our eight-week program is offered three times throughout the year and during those eight weeks, our Mentor Coaches train the girls for an end of season 5k race. We end each practice with a journaling and sharing session where the girls have the opportunity to reflect on topics such as goal setting, being kind to yourself and helping teammates. Title IX Girls Running Club is unique because of our mission. Girls and Mentor Coaches return season after season, year after year since we started in 2007.
Me: Are the girls who join the Club natural runners? And are their families from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds? If so, is there financial aid or some kind of grant through Title IX that would allow them to participate?
They enter at all different skill levels and require no running experience. We offer partial and full scholarships to those who are financially eligible. Club members come from diverse families and backgrounds and live in Cambridge, MA as well as surrounding communities.
Me: As the mom of a tween who is more artsy than she is athletic, I would *love* to get her involved in Title IX Girls. For me and any moms who are working to convince our daughters to be more active (when it doesn't come naturally and they tend to fight it...), do you have any advice or suggestions? I'd love to be armed with convincing reasons why my daughter should give it a try!
I would tell her that Title IX Girls Running Club is made up of girls with all skill levels and there is no running experience required to join. In addition to running, the program also contains a journaling, reflection and discussion component during each practice. Club will give her the opportunity to meet, run and share with new friends from the community.
Me: With hormones changing, pressure from peers and social media, these kids are navigating so much these days. What are the biggest hurdles in working with girls this age?
Girls are under an enormous amount of pressure and are ferociously hard on themselves at this age. Our goal is to teach them how to set goals, work to reach them and to be proud of their accomplishments. Our hope is that this will give them tools that they can use to cope with life beyond running.
Me: What's your favorite part of being involved with Title IX?
My favorite part of coaching is our end of season 5k race. Coaches run the race with the girls and to date we have a 100% completion rate. It is amazing to be part of the excitement of race day, to coach them through the miles and to see the joy on their faces as they cross the finish line.
Me: Thanks so much for taking the time to spread the word about this amazing group!
Obviously, Title IX Girls is local to Cambridge, but for those of you who live elsewhere I just did a search for "local girls empowerment running clubs" and found many resources located throughout the country. After meeting some of the young women in this group, I cannot recommend a group like this more highly. It's so important to spread this kind of effort and to equip parents with the right tools to help raise strong, confident and happy girls.
Thanks again and hope to see you on the track! (Well my kid, not me.)