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Stomping out isolation 

Girls on the Run is changing its program to allow girls to meet together again safely.

Girls on the Run is a program for girls to promote a joyful, healthy and confident life. With schools starting to return to in-person learning, the hybrid schedule still makes the afterschool program difficult for the girls to meet. However, it’s so important to resume this program because of the isolation these girls are feeling due to the pandemic and virtual learning.

According to Ellen Carver, executive director of Girls on the Run Hampton Roads, statistics have shown that there was a 26% increase in emergency room mental health visits for children ages 5 to 11 years old between March and October of 2020.

“This is also considering that many people avoided hospitals during that time because many were scared of getting COVID,” said Carver. “We are working hard to battle the after-effects of this virus.”

Carver also added that students sitting in front of a screen all day for classes doing minimal movement and creating sedentary behavior causes a reduction in endorphins and adrenaline, which causes an increase in anxiety. This anxiety piles on the present worries about illness, family and virtual learning.

Girls on the Run address issues like managing emotions, positive connections, healthy habits and friendships. Having a chance to be socially and actively involved with a group of peers can help these girls not face the silent effects of the pandemic.

“This program is critical for girls to have a safe and secure environment where they can move, learn, laugh with peers, and process their emotions,” said Carver. “While we hope to have as many teams as possible meet face-to-face, we are excited to continue serving girls in ways that are creative and safe.”

The Girls on the Run teams will meet outside in the fresh air at community parks and centers to accommodate for gathering restrictions. Girls can now find a location no matter where they go to school. Girls and their coaches will wear masks and socially distance. Participating girls will also receive sports packs filled with all the supplies they will need so supplies won’t be shared and they can continue on their own at home in case of a COVID-19 case or exposure. Some teams will exclusively meet virtually to accommodate those who don’t feel safe yet to meet in person.

Girls on the Run grades 3 through 5 will meet at:

  • Franklin Parks and Recreation, Franklin
  • Windsor Castle Park, Smithfield
  • Bennett’s Creek Park, Suffolk
  • Creekside Elementary, Suffolk
  • Elephant’s Fork Elementary, Suffolk
  • Mack Benn Jr. Elementary, Suffolk
  • Burbage Grant, Suffolk
  • Holland Baseball Field, Suffolk
  • Suffolk YMCA,    Suffolk
  • Surry Community Center on Enos Drive, Surry

Heart and Sole, grades 6 through 8, will meet at Lake Meade in Suffolk.

For those who may require financial assistance to join Girls on the Run, the Obici Healthcare Foundation has generously donated to reduce the price significantly. Those who receive free lunch at school could get tuition for only $25.

Register or get more information, visit gotrhr.org or call 757-965-9040 Monday through Friday.