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Columns

May 26, 2007

On sisters, steps and solidarity

Allie is barreling around the traffic circle at her sister’s elementary school as fast as her little legs can go. After one lap, she stops in the middle of the pavement, and the big girls weave around her. "I’m tired," she



sighs, plopping down on the grass, only to pop back up again a few minutes later and set off after the pack.



One of the coaches runs by. "Shake it, sisters!" she says to the two girls in front of us. "I like to see you move it-move it."



We’re here to support big-sister Abby and her school’s chapter of Girls on the Run, a nonprofit character-development program with the goal of "educating and preparing girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living." Over several weeks, girls in Grades 3-8 meet after school to explore topics such as bullying, healthy habits and the difference between inner and outer beauty while doing fun group activities and endurance runs designed to train them to run 3.1 miles. The program culminates with a non-competitive 5K race.



Girls on the Run builds on some of the things I love about running: the camaraderie of standing at a start line with people of all ages, sizes and abilities; the rush of crossing a finish line knowing you achieved a goal; the fun of running with a friend and being surprised at how quickly the miles go by. But the program is about much more than running. It’s also about believing in yourself, treating others kindly and with respect, learning to set goals and keep promises, and understanding what it means to be part of a team and a community.



--



My sisters are two of the reasons I run. I’m the oldest, and I took up running first, but now they run farther and faster. Liz runs marathons, Katie competes in triathlons, and I’m running to catch up.

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