by Dani Bradley
Looking for a volunteer opportunity where you can be outside, be physically active, and help empower girls? Dani Bradley tells us what she loves about Girls on the Run, and how you can get involved this winter.
Has the cold weather stifled your fitness inspiration? That’s nothing girls with pink tutus and sparkles can’t fix.
Girls on the Run (GOTR) is an amazing organization that “inspires girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running”. GOTR empowers and educates young girls, in grades three through eight, to help them realize their full potential and provides an unmatched opportunity to develop healthy habits in our youth. The organization began in 1996 in North Carolina and now has over 225 councils across the country! During a 12-week season, girls participate in a program that integrates running and lessons about various GOTR values such as, empowerment, responsibility, and healthfulness, to name only a few. Girls can sign up with specific ‘sites’—usually the town they live in or the community program they are a part of. Any town or community center can start their own site through their local council, with their own funding or as a scholarship site, as long as there are volunteer coaches and girls that are ready to sign up!
When I first became involved with GOTR I was interested in becoming a coach, but unfortunately my job before becoming a Friedman student didn’t allow me to partake in the after-school practices. A former co-worker and I reached out to GOTR’s 5k team leader asking how we could get involved and she told us the Greater Boston council was in the midst of planning their first 5k! We quickly got involved and became the co-chairs to the volunteer committee on the 5k planning team. While my involvement is primarily behind the scenes, it is extremely gratifying to know that I play a role in the success of the program and can positively contribute to each girls’ experience! I think most Friedman students share in GOTR’s values of health and fitness and can appreciate the impact that can be made when young girls are taught healthy habits early in life.
Ready to get inspired? This December the Greater Boston council is hosting its Fall 5k at Dedham High school and you can volunteer! In my opinion, the 5k is the most exciting part of the program. Each girl and her ‘running buddy’ (usually a parent, guardian, babysitter, etc.) partake in a fun-filled day of exercise, empowerment, and excitement!
In my position as volunteer committee co-chair, I co-manage all of the event’s volunteers. Each year, over 100 inspired volunteers help us run the event.
Volunteer opportunities include (but are not limited to):
- Course Marshals are assigned a specific location on the course where they help guide the runners in the correct direction and cheer them on.
- Happy hair volunteers participate in the pre-race activities including helping girls with their hair (braiding, spray-painting, etc.), temporary tattoos, face painting, operating a photo booth, and other fun activities!
- Water stops volunteers help set up the water stations along the course, hand out water to runners, and clean up the area after the girls have passed by. This is a great option if a group of people all want to volunteer together.
- Registration volunteers help the GOTR team with runner check-in.
- Sparkle Runners are volunteers that register to run the race. Each girl is required to run with a ‘running buddy’ for safety purposes, but each year some running buddies cannot make it last minute. Sparkle runners can stand in for missing running buddies or just run the course helping to cheer on all the girls.
- Cheer Hub volunteers motivate the girls at the toughest parts of the course using noisemakers and signs.
- Merchandise volunteers manage the merchandise table and sell our awesome GOTR gear.
Our upcoming 5k is scheduled for Sunday, December 4th at Dedham High School in Dedham, MA.
Grab your friends, classmates, roommates, coworkers, or family and register to volunteer with us!! The deadline to register is Sunday, November 27th.
If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me at Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to see you there!
Dani Bradley is a MPH/FPAN dual degree student. She began at the School of Medicine in January 2016 and is currently in her first semester at the Friedman School. In her free time, she enjoys running, spending time outside, and watching The Office or Parks and Recreation.