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Week Seven: Time to Break a Sweat

October 24, 2011

Shannon Foster joins us this Fall as our Girls on the Run of Atlanta Intern. She’s a student at Georgia Gwinnett College and will be shadowing three Girls on the Run and Girls on Track programs in metro Atlanta. 

The Gwinnett elementary girls buckled down this week, with only three weeks left until race day. As one of the coaches said, “It’s time to try and challenge yourself.  Time to break a sweat.”  They talked about the race and the importance of cooperation.

Afterwards, they headed out to the field to run their laps, but they were interrupted, in a good way. Three of Georgia Tech’s women basketball players: Sarah Hartwell, Dawn Maye, and Sharena Taylor, came to encourage the girls. The girls stood around the players and shyly raised their hands when asked a question, slightly star struck by the GT basketball players as they listened to them talk.

The players talked about the importance of teamwork and setting goals. “Sometimes you have to get over the ‘I’ to get to the ‘we,’” Taylor commented on teamwork and added, “It’s not just about setting them, but accomplishing them as well” when it comes to goals.

Before they left, the GT representative bragged on the players a little, noting how talented they are and how hard they work in both athletics and academics. He challenged the GOTR girls to do the same. “We have to study and be good,” Ashley relayed to me after the talk. Then, as they were getting ready to leave, the GT representative added that they would be leaving some GT gear, including signed basketball posters, and that there will be games where GOTR participants are encouraged to come during the season this year. Of course, while the girls were already enthralled by the players, they were ecstatic to hear that GT would be leaving them with so much memorabilia.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the DeKalb Girls on Track girls were talking about peer pressure and standing up for themselves. Most of the girls said they hadn’t really been exposed to alcohol or drugs and could differentiate between some of the symptoms and effects that they had learned about in health class.

To practice being able to refuse when offered drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, the girls played a game which incorporated what they had just learned. The girls quickly grasped the game and one girl said it was “because you’re doing the right example and not just going along with something.”

Though the girls discussed different topics in the elementary and middle school teams, both were valuable lessons. The elementary girls started to see the importance of collaboration and teamwork, even when running, and the special visit from the GT basketball players encouraged them to keep working toward their goals. Emili said they encouraged her with “when someone tells you that you can’t do something … Just ignore them and keep on going for your dreams.”

In the middle school, the girls reviewed the importance of speaking up for yourself and consciously making thoughtful decisions, even when it meant staying outside of the girl box.

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