how it works . . . our approach
Our character building programs of experiential learning through running teach very specific and well-defined social and personal skills. The programs culminate in a non-competitive 5K event which gives the girls a chance to shine and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
The curricula encompass the following 3 concepts:
Studies show that a decline of self-esteem, poor academic performance, and diminished ambitions take place during adolescence. The skills taught through Girls on the Run have shown to lead to fewer eating disorders, less depression and suicide attempts, fewer substance/alcohol abuse problems and fewer teen pregnancies. The result is a healthier way of life for a new generation of young women.
In 2001, Girls on the Run International contracted with Rita DiGioacchino DeBate, Ph.D., MPH, CHES, to perform a formative impact evaluation. She performed the evaluation in 2002 and 2005. The evaluation assesses the Girls on the Run program and how well it meets stated objectives by using a pre-test/post-test that measures attitudes towards physical activity, self-esteem, eating attitudes, body image and communication. Dr. DeBate is an Associate Professor in the School of Community and Environmental Health at Old Dominion University.
Prior to running our pilot, Dr. DeBate’s review of the academic research in the area of girls and sports turned up two contradictory results. On the one hand, girls involved in athletics have higher self-esteem and engage in fewer risky behaviors than girls who are not. On the other hand, girls who become highly competitive in some sports (such as running, figure skating, gymnastics and other sports in which slim body images are admired) have a higher incidence of eating disorders than girls who are not involved in such sports. This poses a dilemma which – after running our evaluation - Dr. DeBate believes the Girls on the Run curricula may solve.
Through the evaluations, Dr. DeBate found that our curricula improve girls’ self-esteem, body size satisfaction, and physical activity behaviors to a statistically significant extent. Also noted are positive changes regarding attitudes towards physical activity, health behaviors, and empowerment.