Star Power LR3rd - 5th grade girls at Loch Lomond Elementary School participating in Girls on the Run of NOVAGirls on the Run of Northern Virginia received an $8,500 grant in 2018 from the Child & Youth Develompent Fund through the Community Investment Funds grant cycle.  This fund supports porgrams that help children and youth obtain the education, support, services and opportunities they need to thrive.  The grant helped Girls on the Run NOVA expand into an economically disadvantaged school.  They shared the following inspirational story to show how this grant helped at-risk youth establish healthy habits and raise their self-esteem.

When Lauren Daly came on as a new teacher at Loch Lomond Elementary School she became a part of a special community. At this Prince William County Public School, 84% of students are considered economically disadvantaged, and nearly 67% are English language learners. The school strives to be a place where students know they are cared for and leave as lifelong learners. However, this can be challenging as poverty and disconnection can exacerbate the common stresses that come with growing up. Lauren sought out a program that could increase healthy habits and raise self-esteem to help students succeed. Soon she held the first Girls on the Run practice as Coach Lauren.

Fast forward to the present and the Girls on the Run team at Loch Lomond is about to complete their second season. This team of sixteen 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade girls are becoming stronger, healthier, and more confident as individuals, but also as a team connected to each other and their coaches.

Coach Lauren is grateful the girls at Loch Lomond have access to this transformational  program and has seen the girls grow exponentially more confident. One team member attended her first practice with such disinterest the coaches felt the need to raise concern with her mother. At week eight, this same girl keeps the team laughing with her silly antics while working diligently to meet her personal 5k training goals. In just eight weeks, she found her voice and the tools she needs to be successful now and for a lifetime.

Coach Lauren’s favorite GOTR lesson is Attitude of Gratitude. She loves to see the girls’ perspectives of their own challenges pivot to be more positive. During this lesson the girls begin to look for ways to help others in need even though some of them are in great need themselves. They are reminded that being grateful means noticing and appreciating the positive people and circumstances in our lives.

So many girls enter adolescence at a disadvantage — low self-confidence and poor self image create an automatic hurdle to coping with maturing stressors in a healthy way. Couple this with the lengthening list of tensions that are present to youth in low-income and distressed communities and the challenges can seem insurmountable. Girls on the Run of NOVA seeks to reach every girl from any family throughout Northern Virginia, so that she knows that she has the ultimate power to be her best. With the generous support of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia we are able to further eliminate the financial barriers many families encounter when seeking access to the Girls on the Run of NOVA program.

Please consider a donation to the Community Investment Funds to help children and youth to thrive in our region.