by Lisa Tome
Calvert Elementary School fifth grader Lynne Fortune is heading for middle school in the fall.
One way she is preparing is by participating in the after school Girls on the Run program. Girls on the Run is a national program which is designed to "inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum in which creativity integrates running."
Megan Wiecek and Kayla Bucciarelli serve as the coaches. Wiecek said Girls on the Run has been at Calvert for two sessions, one held last fall with nearly 30 participants, and this spring session with more than a dozen.
She said the smaller group is more conducive to building relationships between the coaches and the students, who are in grades three, four, and five. The group meets twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. Parents pay a fee for the 20 session course.
Wiecek said she has focused on promoting physical, social, and emotional growth in girls. One of the life lessons is the importance of community service. The Calvert Girls on the Run have contributed to the Belle Rouge Farm and Horse Rescue. They raised funds.
"I love it," said Bucciarelli. "The girls have a positive impact on each other." The girls also set running goals and watch themselves make progress.
Stephanie Kennan is a second grade teacher. She is not an official coach but participates in Girls on the Run. "I wanted exercise for myself. We have fun running together. It was a way to get my exercise in," said Kennan, who also enjoys learning with the girls and mentoring them.
The Calvert Girls on the Run members will join with those from other schools 5K run on May 20 at Harford Community College. Other area schools also have Girls on the Run programs. On the middle school level, a similar program, Heart and Sole, is the sister program to Girls on the Run.