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Author Archives: jenniferlynnknapp
Last week we wrapped up our 2013 Girls on the Run season with another unforgettable celebration. 2,200 third through fifth grade girls from across Southwest Michigan participated in the 5K event alongside another almost 2,000 coaches, volunteers, family and friends that took over Waldo Stadium on Western Michigan University’s campus in Kalamazoo. Our girls enjoyed making decorative tutus at our Monday practice for the run and then a little pizza and awards party on Wednesday before the big day. Each girl received a “Molly award”, named after the founder of Girls on the Run, which included the “firecracker”, “quiet strength”, and “social butterfly” awards. My favorite part of the entire season every year is arriving at Waldo Stadium to the tremendous amount of energy and then watching girls cross the finish line with huge smiles on their little faces. Truly inspiring. If there is one lesson I learned from these … …continue
Weeks 9 & 10 of Girls on the Run Last week the girls finalized what their community service project would be. They brainstormed possible ideas and then decided as a team how they could serve their community. Our team decided to do something nice for the teachers of their upper elementary school. This week each girl brought in a couple dozen treats to place in the teacher’s lounges, the bus garage, and the maintenance building. Dozens of decorative cookies, gooey brownies, and bars were delivered by the team to some very happy recipients. The girls also each designed an adorable door hanger for each classroom What a great way to give back to their school and leaders. What have you done for your community lately?
Week 7 & 8 of Girls on the Run Last week we explored the qualities to look for in our friends. We also identified some difficult situations that many young girls face within friendships and why it is important to be intentional about our friendships. Several girls said they would rather have honest, happy, and caring friends even if that means not being part of the “popular” group. What a road they have ahead of them. Sure to be full of crossroads where they will have to make decisions on their own dealing with this difficult topic. This week we discussed being aware of the negative ways media portrays girls and women. Together, we developed critical thinking skills to use when viewing an advertisement or media image. After glancing at a magazine ad for a shampoo brand, many girls agreed that using their product does not mean they would turn out … …continue
Week 6 of Girls on the Run Teaching the girls skills to help them stand up for themselves and what they believe was the focus of this week’s lesson. At the beginning of practice, the girls participated in a team building exercise that required them to pass a tennis ball using only their elbows and then their chins, which can be a pretty challenging task if you think about it. During the exercise, a girl from each of the two teams was asked to be the “negative Nancy”. I heard comments like “I suck at this”, “I can’t do this”, and “I quit”. It was interesting to hear some encouraging responses from a few girls but many remained pretty quiet. Next, the girls practiced some assertiveness statements to help them talk to someone who may be bothering them. We talked about using the “I feel…when you…because…I need you to…” approach. … …continue
This week we discussed peer pressure and shared examples of when we might be influenced by our peers. Some great examples were brought up and I quickly realized just how often these girls are put into similar situations. At this age, there seems to be a lot of bullying, but soon, they will be faced with even worse decisions. We learned the Girls on the Run strategy of “stop, breathe, listen, and respond” that will help them stand up to peer pressure. Our warm up included some role-playing using the strategy and it was great to hear the responses from the girls. The girls would stop to think, take five deep breaths, listen to that little voice in their head, and respond with a clear mind. What a great way to approach the big decisions in life, stop…breath…listen…and then respond. I think we could all learn a lesson from that.
Week 4 of Girls on the Run This week we discussed body image and what it means to be comfortable in your own skin. The girls partnered up to trace the outline of their bodies and then wrote some positive examples of what they thought of themselves in the inside. They each presented three and I loved the repeated words of beautiful, funny, crazy, cheerful, smart, awesome, happy, and faithful. Sitting around the circle, we talked a little about heredity and why everyone is different. One third-grader made a great comment that we would all be like robots if we all looked and acted alike. Another girl raised her hand to state, “I have a ton of hair and my dad has none. So I must have got that from my mom.” Next week is Spring Break but the girls were left with the question of what makes our … …continue
Week 3 of Girls on the Run: Yesterday the girls were asked what it means to be emotionally healthy and the importance of that. Some great responses were “to talk about it” and “you shouldn’t bottle it all in”. They each enjoyed showing emotions with facial expressions. We then connected different emotions with whether they are comfortable or uncomfortable emotions instead of using “good” verses “bad” because all emotions are normal and good to have. The girls were asked to go home and think about: Is it natural to be angry sometimes? Is it ever a good idea to keep your anger and frustration inside of you? What are some positive things you can say to yourself? Are YOU emotionally healthy?
Week 2 of Girls on the Run and yesterday we chatted about negative self talk. After going around the circle and hearing each young girl say one negative thing they might say about themselves, it made you really think about how often we all get caught in these moments even as adults. We’ve all stood looking at ourselves in the mirror and judged ourselves negatively. It’s such an easy thing to do. After giving the negative thoughts to “no nonsense nelly” aka a bedazzled box at the end of the tunnel of girls, we quickly turned the mood positive. Each girl wrote down two positive things they could say to themselves next. We put them all together and took them out in the hallway. For each lap the girls completed, they would trade their card for a new one to think about while they ran. I enjoyed handing them each … …continue
Yesterday marks my third year of assistant coaching the fabulous Girls on the Run program. Fourteen loud and very excited third through fifth grade girls filled the room, a hand full I already knew from years previous. Our lesson began with having the girls all close their eyes and imagining detaching the “negative cord” and plugging in the “positive cord” followed by some open discussion about what a positive girl acts and looks like. The girls really enjoyed taking over the gym and getting in some playtime. For each lap they completed, whether walking or running, or doing the bear crawl (whatever came to mind as long as they kept moving), they would write down something or someone they could turn to when they were in a negative state and were in need of a positive uplift. Friends, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, brother, sister, my dog, my room, and the … …continue