Non-profit organization empowering young girls through mentorship

NOW: Non-profit organization empowering young girls through mentorship

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – A local chapter for a national non-profit organization that helps young girls build confidence is waiving the registration fee this season.

Girls on the Run Michiana helps girls build essential skills that they can use throughout their lifetime through interactive activities and lessons. The local chapter started in Michiana 11 years ago with just 12 girls. Since then, the program has grown, now offered at 34 schools and seven parks across Michiana.

“The mission is to help girls see themselves as strong and confident and have the skills and tools that they need to be successful as they grow into young women and adults,” Executive Director for Girls on the Run Michiana, Amy Collier said.

Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization designed for girls from third through eighth grade, is an eight-week program led by volunteers. These mentors teach girls lessons like resolving conflict, making intentional decisions, communication, and positive thinking through emotional support and exercise.

The program kicks off its 2021 season in mid-March. After a season of navigating the program through zoom last year, coaches are ready to mentor these girls in-person and help foster confidence and self-reliance in their formative years.

“It’s game-changing for them. It gives them so many tools in their social and emotional toolbox,” said Tania Bengtsson, a coach with Girls on the Run Michiana. “It impacts their families, their friends, the schools, the community, and it’s going to give them something that they take with them throughout their lifetime.”

Last year, over 1,000 girls signed up. But, as the season was about to begin, the pandemic hit. Officials moved the program to a virtual format.

This year, coach Bengtsson said the program is modified to follow COVIS-19 safety precautions.

“This season is a little tougher. People are keeping their bubbles a little smaller. But it’s still, we’re still in a highly successful mode right now. With 15 girls we’re going to serve to do our programming 100 percent outdoors, keeping it safe, but still giving them tools and resources that they need and want to be the best version of themselves," Bengtsson said.

Now, Girls on the Run Michiana will have lessons outdoors, with safety measures in place. These measures will allow the girls to social distance themselves. Participants will not be sharing materials, and groups this season will be downsized.

“It’s a lot harder with the pandemic, it’s harder to get the word out, it’s harder to make sure people are aware of the program and so, we’re just wanting to bring in as many girls as we can and help them recover from the isolation they’ve experienced. And some of the mental struggles that they’ve experienced,” Collier said.

Registration is on-going, you can register here. If you want to see if Girls on the Run Michiana is available at your school or want to become a coach you can call Girls on the Run Michiana at (574) 387-2084. To learn more about the national non-profit organization go to Nonprofit Girls Empowerment Program | Girls on the Run

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