By Kate Tobiasson, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Empowering sixth- and seventh-grade girls is a noble mission, and one that Linda Lane and her coaches, Victoria Roach and Elizabeth Joki, are working on each week at Quinn Middle School in Hudson. Through the national nonprofit program “Girls on the Run,” Lane holds practice twice each week and follows a curriculum that encourages girls to better understand themselves and to value relationships.
After character building activities, the coaches take the girls on a run, which is used to inspire and motivate the girls to accomplish their goals. At the conclusion of the season, Lane and her team of girls completes a 5K running event.
“I’ve been coaching for three years, and this is my second-year running the program,” began Lane. “There are many kids who start the program with the mindset that they aren’t runners. They step out of their comfort zone, and run a 5k by the end of the season. They might not run the whole thing, but they work together to complete the race. This program is about overcoming body image stereotypes; we coaches try to encourage running throughout the season, and to get outdoors and be physical.”
A fifth-grade teacher at Quinn, Lane understands the importance of programs like Girls on the Run for adolescent girls. Developing a team mindset, developing relationships and simply getting outside can help students to find more success during school. The program helps the girls to better understand their own feelings and perspectives, and to develop connections with both peers and adults.
“When doing character education, we coaches share our stories, too,” Lane explained. “It is important for the kids to see us modeling these skills. After the first few practices, they take turns leading the warm-up exercises. They also decided to take charge of our end of season celebration. These leadership roles are unique opportunities for the girls. One of my goals moving forward is to try to get some coaches from the community for the girls to connect with, and to better understand the various perspectives of people in our community.”
This outreach is a vital part of the Girls on the Run program. This season the team decided to hold a drive to collect donations for the Sterling Animal Shelter. The girls hung posters, posted donation boxes and participated in daily announcements to help bring attention to their cause.
On Dec. 1, the team ran their end-of-season 5K.
“It is great for the kids to complete in the 5K,” noted Lane. “Participating in this program helps them to challenge physical stereotypes, and to really think about what they might be able to accomplish.”