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NEW STUDY DEMONSTRATES THAT GIRLS ON THE RUN TRANSFORMS YOUNG GIRLS’ LIVES

KNOXVILLE – As students are heading back to school, many parents are looking for after-school activities that provide a safe and structured space where children can learn skills and be physically active. Girls on the Run offers this and so much more.

A recent independent study provides compelling evidence that Girls on the Run is highly effective at driving transformative and lasting change in the lives of third to fifth-grade girls. The program’s intentional curriculum places an emphasis on developing competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution in young girls through lessons that incorporate running and other physical activities. Throughout the course of the ten-week program, girls learn critical life skills including managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others and making intentional decisions. It is the combination of the research-based curriculum, trained coaches and a commitment to serve all girls that sets Girls on the Run apart from other after-school programs.

The independent study was conducted by Maureen R. Weiss, Ph.D, a leading expert on youth development. “Girls on the Run participants scored higher in managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others, and making intentional decisions than participants in organized sport or physical education,” confirms Weiss. “Being able to generalize skills learned in the program to other situations such as at school or at home is a distinguishing feature of Girls on the Run compared to traditional youth sports and school physical education, and suggests that the intentional life skills curriculum and coach-training program can serve as exemplars for other youth programs.”

Key study results

  1. 97 percent of girls said they learned critical life skills at Girls on the Run that they are using at home, at school, and with their friends
  2. 7 out of 10 girls who improved from pre-season to post-season sustained improvements in competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, or physical activity beyond the season’s end.
  3. Girls in Girls on the Run were significantly more likely than girls in physical education or organized sports programs to learn and use life skills, including managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others and making intentional decisions.
  4. Girls who were the least active before Girls on the Run increased their physical activity level by 40 percent from pre-season to post-season and maintained this increased level beyond the program’s end.

Utilize this quote from Liz or insert a quote from Council Director of Board Chair.

“We receive countless letters from girls, parents, and coaches about how our program changes lives,” said Elizabeth Kunz, chief executive officer of Girls on the Run. “The study findings reinforce these personal stories and provide powerful evidence that participation in Girls on the Run leads to positive changes. These results confirm our commitment to expand our reach and inspire one million more girls to become joyful, healthy and confident.”

For more information about fall registration for Girls on the Run, please visit www.gotrknoxville.org

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About Girls on the Run

Based in Charlotte, NC, Girls on the Run is a nonprofit organization with local Councils in all 50 states. Founded in 1996 with 13 girls, Girls on the Run has now served nearly than one and a half million girls. Over the course of the ten-week program, girls in third to fifth grades develop essential skills to help them navigate their worlds and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness. The program culminates with girls positively impacting their communities through a service project and being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5K event. With the largest 5K series by number of events in the world, Girls on the Run hosts more than 330 5Ks per year.

Girls on the Run was recently included as a top research-based program in a Social-Emotional Learning Guide developed by researchers at Harvard University and has been recognized by the National Afterschool Association (NAA) as one of the most influential after-school programs.

About the study

Maureen R. Weiss, Ph.D., a leading scholar in positive youth development research, led the independent, longitudinal study. Dr. Weiss is a professor in the School of Kinesiology and an adjunct professor in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. She has published more than 150 refereed journal articles and book chapters, and has edited or co-edited four books on youth sport and physical activity. She received the 2014 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Science Board’s Honor Award and the Distinguished Scholar Award from the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity in 2016.

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Sign up to Coach! Activate their #limitlesspotential

You can inspire greatness!  You can help activate their limitless potential!  YOU can coach!  And no, you don’t have to be a runner! Click here to sign up today!

  • Girls on the Run of Greater Knoxville is a transformational learning program for girls. We teach life skills through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running games.
  • Coaches will volunteer their time to meet with a small team of girls (3rd-5th grade) twice a week after school for 10 weeks. Most sites begin practice at 2:45 pm!
  • A curriculum is provided with lessons and we provide a box full of materials! We will also provide you with a free training before the season.
  • You do not have to be a runner to be a coach! Just ready to have fun and inspire greatness.

Click here to sign up today!

GOTR Coach training is required in order to coach.  More information is forthcoming.

For more information about coaching, click here.

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Special Blog Post from our Board President

Girls on the Run Greater Knoxville

I’d like to share a quick story with you about one of our Girls on the Run (GOTR) participants. This is a real account, but I had to change the name for confidentiality reasons. Sam was a third-grader when she was first introduced to GOTR. She was having a very difficult time at home and at school, finding herself in the principal’s office or in in-school suspension nearly every day and with failing grades. At all of our schools, we have Site Liaisons who help identify girls who would benefit from the program and encourage their participation.  The Liaison at Sam’s school recognized that the GOTR curriculum could benefit her and approached her about it. Sam agreed to participate. By lesson 3, Sam was not making daily visits to the principal and slowly went from being the school bully to an engaged encourager. Another wonderful result of her participation in GOTR is that she discovered she loves to run and she’s fast! For 10 weeks, her energy went into the laps around the track and supporting her teammates and away from hurtful words toward others. When the 5k came around she not only ran the course, but her mother and siblings, who had never been involved with Sam’s school meetings, etc. in the past, were there with signs and cheers along the course. And Sam is only 1 of the hundreds of girls who participate. I have provided a brief description below about our program and I think Sam’s story will prove that our mentoring / coaching program works to develop confident girls that make a positive impact in their schools and community.

My ask is to please take a moment to consider volunteering for Girls on the Run of Greater Knoxville and cheer on hundreds of girls just like Sam!

Girls on the Run is a transformational physical activity–based positive youth development program for girls in 3rd to 8th grade designed to develop and enhance girls’ competencies to successfully navigate life experiences. At Girls on the Run, trained and supportive coaches and volunteers teach life skills through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running games. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5k running event. The goals of the program are to develop and improve competence, unleash confidence through accomplishment, develop strength of character, respond to others and oneself with care and compassion, create positive connections with peers and adults and make a meaningful contribution to community, all while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.

We have so many ways you can help:

If you would like to come see a coaching session to see if you might be interested in coaching in the future Terry would be happy to arrange a site visit. No better way to understand how Girls on the Run of Greater Knoxville helps inspire girls to be healthy and confident than to see it firsthand! Please email Terry Keltner at terry.leann.keltner@ms.com with any questions!

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Scholarship Application

If you would like to receive a scholarship for our program, please fill out this form.

The completed application may be emailed to kelly.eldridge@girlsontherun.org or mailed to

GOTRGK | PO Box 31135 | Knoxville, TN | 37930

Questions can be directed to Kelly Eldridge at 865-712-9979