On October 11th, I celebrated The Day of The Girl the best way I know how; coaching for Fit Girls. The Fit Girls Run Club Program is a running program for girls in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade that focuses on building self-esteem, friendships, and a love of running, as well as giving back to the community. The club takes place twice a week where non-competitive workouts take place to prepare the girls for a local 5k race.
I participated in this club when I was younger, and this year, I became a coach.
I've always struggled with running; I was never the fastest, I never won any races, but I loved it and I loved the friendships it allowed me to form. Fit Girls has allowed me to stay active, but it's way more than that.
For most of the girls, this is their first experience with running. There's always plenty of complaining, but on every single run, I get to witness amazing levels of perseverance and kindness. These girls come each day ready to go with their neon sneakers, high ponytails, and huge smiles.
Every time I go I see them push through and go just a little further than they thought they could. I see young girls, cheering each other on and building each other up, rather than knocking each other down.
I see strong women in the making, and it's the most powerful thing you could ever witness.
So on October 11th, it was the day of the girl. We went on our usual 45-minute run, and then came back together as a group. The woman who founded Fit Girls stood up and told the group that because October 11th is so special, she had two activities planned before our time was up.
First, a 4th grader was introduced, who had brought in a book called That's What She Said, which contained short biographies of important women, and she read about Oprah Winfrey. I could see the other girls were intrigued, and excited. The looks on their faces just screamed "a successful woman? How awesome!" I loved watching a 4th grader use her voice to share the story of an amazing woman to the group.
Next, a question was posed to the group.
"What is something that you've heard or been told that you can't do, because you're a girl?"
The girls immediately wrote their answers on their scraps of paper.
Then, one by one, each girl was asked to stand up, scream what they wrote as loud as they could, rip it up, and slam it into the trash can.
"Girls can't play football!"
"Girls can't drive!"
"Girls can't be president!"
The list goes on.
By the time that we had to leave, I was left speechless. These little girls are empowered. These girls have seen the injustice that women face today, and by the looks of it, they're ready to one day put a stop to it. My generation is right there with them, ready to make that change. I find it so inspiring and uplifting to see that girls today are being raised to refuse to have their voices silenced. We refuse to be inequal any longer.
So yes, there are days when I have a million other things that I could be doing. But I show up each week, ready to run, sweat, cheer, and laugh. I show up for the girls because the truth it, I get as much out of being there as they do.