Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Marking Your Progress

One of the things we do at Girls on the Run is run laps -- lots of them! As a physical activity based positive youth development program, we use running as a tool to boost the girls in the ways they need it most as they enter their adolescent years, working on competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution as well as encouraging physical activity and discouraging sedentary behavior. Running is incorporated into many of the games and activities that are used to reinforce the lesson objectives.

When we get to the laps part of the lesson, a few of the girls who genuinely love running get really excited. I love hearing the cheers from these girls: "Yay! I was hoping we'd start running soon!" But for most of the girls, running laps is a chore. Training is hard work, requiring discipline and dedication, and it's difficult for the girls to understand how this tiresome activity will help them to reach their end-of-season goal of completing a 5K run.

Isn't life like this? In the day-to-day, it's easy to lose sight of the way that intentional action and perseverance today lead to growth and achievement tomorrow.

In Girls on the Run, we try different tactics to make the lap-running more fun for the girls. Favorites this season included zombie and freeze tag, chasing or being chased by the coaches, and STICKERS. When we started using stickers as lap-counters, I thought the girls would put them on their clothes, or maybe their backpacks. But instead, their favorite sticker spots were their faces. The girls raced around the school, aiming for that next sticker, the stickers serving as a visual reminder of their hard work and intentional action. Girls were moving forward, progressing toward their 5K goal, and having fun while doing it.

We all have things we do each day that may seem laborious and even pointless: folding the laundry, writing that report, running laps. What can you do today to liven up that which feels tiresome? How can you mark your progress? Sometimes these seemingly mundane activities are truly the pathway to the extraordinary.

Please consider a donation to my SoleMates fundraising campaign. The money that I am able to raise goes to our GOTR NJ East scholarship fund and is used to expand the GOTR program into areas of our council territory where scholarship needs tend to be highest, an initiative that we call Every Girl can Run. All donations are tax deductible. Thank you for your support!