Girls on the Run fosters confidence and teamwork in Herricks

Center Street’s Girls on the Run participants got to know each other better recently while engaging in exercise and fun. (Photos courtesy of Herricks Public Schools)

Girls in the Herricks Public Schools are developing priceless positive qualities and personal strengths through Girls on the Run, an international empowerment program that builds confidence and enhances mental, emotional and physical well-being. The district is dedicated to cultivating these virtues among, and this initiative is one that complements and enhances its efforts.

The program is offered to third- through fifth-graders at Center Street, Denton Avenue and Searingtown elementary schools and, as of last year, sixth- through eighth-graders at Herricks Middle School. Each building’s team meets twice a week after school to explore a curriculum that ties in with aspects of social-emotional learning and mindfulness through discussion components and various running exercises that encourage goal-setting as well as physical fitness.

Herricks Middle School’s Girls on the Run Team, coached by Principal Joan Keegan and Science Chairperson Diane McCabe, is now in its second year after a successful launch. (Photo courtesy of Herricks Public Schools)

The local council, Girls on the Run Long Island, is a nonprofit organization comprising districts across Nassau and Suffolk counties. According to the program, 97 percent of those involved said that it has benefited their ability to manage emotions, resolve conflicts, make intentional decisions and help others. Content concentrates on students’ self-awareness, relationships and teamwork, and understanding of their impact on world.

Center Street’s team, comprised of 20 students in grades 3-5, is coached by Herricks Board of Education member and Girls on the Run Long Island Chairperson Nancy Feinstein along with Foula Banandini, Roberta Carleton and Kristina Dolan. During the first portion of each meeting, they engage in conversations and activities prior to heading outside for a warm-up and run. They recently focused on the subject of friendship and later incorporated their dialog into a running drill. The students ran in pairs and switched partners for each lap around the basketball court, with the goal of getting to know one another. They asked and answered questions about their favorite colors, sports, school subjects, animals and much more. The group previously covered the quality of empathy and steps that can be taken to put oneself in another person’s shoes.

At Center Street, the girls warmed up for a recent practice with push-ups and other exercises under the guidance of coaches Nancy Feinstein and Foula Banandini. (Photo courtesy of Herricks Public Schools)

“The lessons taught at Girls on the Run focuses on inspiring girls to be joyful healthy and confident are values that apply to all relationships, for children and adults,” Ms. Feinstein said. “The girls build confidence through running and by being exposed to and getting to know girls in different grades.”

The 18 Long Island teams, including the four from Herricks, will come together for a culminating 5K running celebration in December that promotes a sense of accomplishment and support, rather than competition. This year’s race will be held on Dec. 2 at Hofstra University, with an anticipated attendance of more than 650 participants. All are invited to run, whether on their own, with their family or as a running buddy for one of the girls.

As Ms. Feinstein explained, “It’s a giant party where we celebrate each girl’s limitless potential!”

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