Thursday, February 14, 2008

After-School Program Teaches Girlpower

DVDs and books by Denise Austinby Denise Austin

A former female Ironman triathlete says she's found a way to help young girls successfully navigate the hormonal minefield known as puberty — hit the track! Molly Barker, founder of the Girls on the Run program, set out to counter the tendency of girls to leave sports behind once they enter puberty. Barker says she remembers all too well the pressures she felt as a young girl to fit into what she calls the girl box — an idealized image of femininity that didn't include being an athlete.

Barker's after-school program has helped some 40,000 preteens stay active and build their self-esteem through their successes on the field. A second program,
called Girls on Track, focuses on encouraging middle-school-age girls to keep moving. And guess what? It's working! Girls who participate in these programs report feeling better about their changing bodies and more comfortable in their skin.

If you have a young woman in your life, encourage her not to give up sports and other "sweaty" activities just to fit in! Being a woman doesn't mean sitting on the sidelines. It's a lesson that will serve her for life!

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