In March, Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day proved to be an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the Girls on the Run organization.

Positive attention is always good for a local nonprofit. Maria Center, executive director for Girls on the Run Coastal Georgia and Lowcountry, says the group is always looking for ways to draw in more community support and involvement.

The community has a chance to give back to Girls on the Run through their registration in the Publix Women’s Half Marathon and 5K on April 6. Girls on the Run is one of the charities benefiting from the local event and runners and walkers can register in person at the race’s Fashion Fitness Expo from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 5 at Kehoe Iron Works at Trustees’ Garden.

 

Do Savannah caught up with Center to learn more about the group, their mission and why it’s so important to young ladies in our community.

Do: Tell our readers about Girls on the Run and your mission in our community.

Center: “Girls on the Run Coastal Georgia and Lowcountry is an Independent Council of Girls on the Run International. Our local council is 12-year-old girls and runs after-school programs and summer camps.

“The program is designed to develop girls’ social, psychological and physical competencies. We use an experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running and is delivered by highly-trained coaches. Our volunteer coaches inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.

“Girls on the Run envisions a world where all girls know and activate their limitless potential and are free to boldly pursue her dreams. Our program helps girls manage their emotions, resolve conflict, help other people and make intentional decisions. We served 1,250 girls last year in our fall and spring seasons and that number continues to climb. We currently serve Chatham, Bryan, Effingham, Liberty, Bulloch and Beaufort counties.

We just celebrated Women's History Month and International Women's Day and GOTR launched the #Let'sTellHer campaign. What was the community response and what are some highlights from that event? And how do you integrate this type of campaign into local programs?

“This social media campaign drew attention to female leadership and achievement. Our coaches model attitudes and behaviors that breed success so girls can learn from them. Girls see our core values in action: to be intentional in decision-making, to embrace differences and find strength in connectedness, and to express joy, optimism and gratitude in all they do.”

How can the community get help GOTR?

“We need sponsors, coaches and community volunteers for our existing programs and activities. We are also able to bring our high-quality, evidence-based programming to new sites. We work primarily in schools, but can serve girls in any setting, including churches, neighborhood centers and residential communities. Our goal is to reach as many girls as possible.”

What future events can the community?

“Our next 5K is on Saturday, May 4 at Hutchison Island. This end-of-season event is the culmination of the 10-week curriculum. Anyone can run or walk in this 5K to encourage and support the hundreds of little girls who will be running in it.

“You see the sense of accomplishment on their faces when they cross the finish line and confidently get their medals. You see the pride on the faces of their family members. It is very, very cool. If you need an uplifting experience, this is it.”