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New Series: GOTR Atlanta Coaches Speak Out!

March 15, 2010

The Why We Run blog is pleased to introduce a new series featuring real life Girls on the Run of Atlanta coaches! The GOTR Atlanta Spring 2010 season is entering its fourth week, and will culminate on May 1 with the GOTR Atlanta 5K. Our first guest contributor is Leslie Smith Grant, a coach and parent at Neighborhood Charter School in Atlanta. Check back often  for more blogs from Leslie as well as other GOTR Atlanta coaches!

Hi, My name is Leslie Smith Grant (aka Mother Hen). I’d like to share my experience so that other moms out there might be encouraged to get a chapter of Girls on the Run/Girls on Track going at their school. I really think it should be offered at every Elementary/Middle School in the country and can see that happening within a few years (I promise no one paid me to say this!…)

My story with Girls on the Run began a few months ago and has to do with my job. I know how important it is for children to learn how to eat right and exercise. In fact, I started a company a couple years ago after struggling with these same issues myself (www.chickinfeed.com. – you can get the whole story here: http://incrediblepeople.rachaelrayshow.com/_Chickin-Feed-Founder-Leslie-Smith-Grant/video/131738/16764.html )  

After acknowledging my lack of  “nutrition expertise” – I could see that I wasn’t doing the best job feeding myself and my family – I realized that I needed to take control of my habits before they became ingrained in my kids, Lucy (age 8 at the time) and Will (age 4 at the time.)  I knew that Lucy would be a pre-teen before I knew it and I dreaded all the “body baggage” she might begin to carry that I distinctly remember attaining during my pre-teen years, so I set out to improve our condition. Chickin Feed was hatched and we’ve been making some great strides and baby steps in the right direction ever since…

One day, while participating in a small festival in Alpharetta, Georgia, a mom came up and told me about this program called Girls on the Run. She thought it would fit well with what I was doing. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow up with it immediately.  It wasn’t until about a year later when I joined the Sustainability Committee at my children’s school that I sought it out again. 
What does Sustainability (going green & all that) have to do with running you ask? Well, running is one of the most sustainable healthy habits you can build. Part of building effective healthy habits is finding something that you like to do – if you don’t like to do it, you’re not going to keep it up. And personally, if it isn’t easily accessible or requires too much equipment, money or a gym to do it well… it’s just not going to happen – I am the queen of excuses!  Running is a stand out sport that beautifully addresses all of these issues. Anytime, anywhere, with as little or much input from other folks as you like and aside from a jog bra & some shoes, requires very little money. And it can be done at any age (I’m starting back at age 44 and my 41 year old hubby is about to run his 3rd marathon!)

So, knowing that I wanted to incorporate some sustainable healthy habits for my “chickins” and with the eminent pre-teen thing-gy mentioned above, I remembered Girls on the Run. I went to the website and got so excited that I committed to starting a chapter at our school before I really processed all that it would take to bring it to fruition. In desperation, I asked my daughter’s fifth grade teacher if she would please help. She seemed more enthusiastic than I was and immediately recruited  two other teacher’s. A couple months later and we have lift-off! Four coaches including: Coach “Porcupine” Perry, Coach “Monkey” Michaels & Coach “Jaguar” Jenkins, three or so parents that help out, a full roster of enthusiastic 3rd-5th grade girls, a wait-list and we’ve had three incredible weeks of fun, girly activities and some pretty great SUSTAINABLE habit building! We’re feeling a lot like ELVIS! Thank you very much…

Oh, I mentioned how much of a pain it was all going to be to get the thing going. Being a classic “volunteer-aholic” I was certain this would be one more thing I regretted saying, “Yes” to. NOT an issue! The curriculum, materials, training and communication have all been so effortless and the enthusiasm from all the parents and teacher/coaches involved has been amazing. We are all very exited about the upcoming race and competing together…most of all myself, I think. It will be the first 5-K I’ve completed and I’m quite honored to be running it with such a fantastic group of girlies!

Thanks for indulging my background story…I’ll be signing off as Ms. Grant & Mother Hen and reporting back in at a later date as Coach “Goat” Grant!

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