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Sponsor a Girls on the Run program


The girls end their eight-week session with a 5K run/walk. In this case, girls from five counties ran in Tucker County. Parents often run with their girls. (Photo: Kate Long)



Girls on the Run combines training for a 5K with character-building sessions like this one in Fayetteville, on subjects like bullying and sticking up for other people. (Photo: Kate Long)

More than 800 West Virginia girls now run for fun twice a week for eight weeks after school in Girls on the Run, a volunteer-run afterschool program. They train for their own 5K. The program includes a strong character-building / team-building component.

“If we can get a girl loving to run, her health’s going to be protected, possibly for the rest of her life,” said volunteer Elkins program organizer Terry Evans.

“Girls on the Run is the ideal program for a low-income county,” Evans said. “It’s up to the local chapter how much you charge girls to participate, so in counties with a  high poverty rate, this is one way to give girls access to training they wouldn’t otherwise have had.”

Some programs offer spring and fall sessions. Others offer the program once a year.


Want to start a Girls on the Run chapter?


To start a local group, you must first affiliate with an existing state “council.” Some small states have one council for the whole state. West Virginia has three. Some information:


Every girl who takes part in the 5K is a winner when the different clubs run together, here in Pasons. (Photo: Kate Long)

  • It costs $7,500 to start a council, so, rather than starting your own, you may want to explore the possibility of affiliating with an existing council. There are three approved councils in West Virginia: One serves Cabell and Wayne Counties, another serves Northcentral West Virginia, and one serves Southern West Virginia (Mercer, McDowell, Mingo, so far).
  • There are some costs, but they are affordable if you affiliate with an existing chapter. Yearly local costs, including insurance, materials, race costs, etc. have been estimated between $1,000 and $2,000 on average, but there are many variables. Contact one of the existing councils for specifics. Click on “Search by state.”
  • If you want to start another council in your part of the state, you may want to partner with two or more other counties.
  • The North Central council has secured sponsors – businesses and health care organizations – that help pay their yearly expenses.  Think about what businesses might sponsor you in your area.
  • A GOTR session lasts 10 – 12 weeks. Each session includes character-building exercises (responding to bullying, being helpful to others,  non-competitiveness, etc.). The girls learn stress reduction techniques, as well as safe walking/running skills.
  • Read more about Girls on the Run in this Charleston Gazette story:
  • And this Charleston Daily Mail story
  • You will need enough coaches to have at least two coaches present each of the eight sessions.  Most programs have at least four coaches, since there will be weeks when a given coach can’t come.
  • A school or other location with safe indoor and outdoor places for girls to run must agree to house the program. Most GOTR programs in WV operate after school, based in a school building, often rent-free.


Here’s how to find the West Virginia councils your local group could join:


Girls build their stamina with an indoor program before they start running in a group. (Photo, Kate Long)





At the end of a session at Faytteville Elementary, girls come together for a closing ceremony.

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