Empowering Girls to Build a Better Future Through Running
“You simply can’t run in ballet slippers or flip flops.” – Minka Misangyi, Executive Director,
Girls on the Run of Bexar County
Two-hundred-and-fifty-two girls between third and eighth grade. Two running seasons per year. Two curriculums. Fifty coaches. Clipboards, handbooks, jump ropes, water jugs, First Aid kits, lap counters, cones and flags, running shoes and race funding.
What do all of these items have in common?
They were all made possible through New Balance contributions to Girls on the Run of Bexar County.
“The New Balance San Antonio partnership means so much to the success of our program,” explains Girls on the Run of Bexar County Executive Director Minka Misangyi. “It enables us to serve girls who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in the program.”
As the primary corporate sponsor for the program, New Balance San Antonio hopes to educate the community about the work of this organization and inspire other corporations and business owners to contribute to Girls on the Run.
What is Girls on the Run?
A prevention program that encourages preteen girls to develop healthy lifestyles through running, Girls on the Run is a national organization with a San Antonio council, which was established in 2010. The organization focuses on a three-part curriculum that is divided into two tracks, each with a set of 24 lessons that builds on itself after each lesson. Track one is for young girls ages third through fifth grade and the second track is for sixth through eighth grade girls.
The objective is to prevent at-risk behaviors and get the young girls to understand their value, not conform or buy into stereotypes. The curriculum helps to build self-esteem, lower the education drop-out rate, decrease the likelihood of pregnancy, increase community involvement and empower these young girls to stay on track and out of trouble for a successful, fulfilling life. The three parts of the curriculum are as follows:
- The first part is centered on getting young girls to understand themselves. Who am I?
- The second part concentrates on helping the participants relate to their peers.
- And lastly, the third part focuses on understanding your role in the community. The world is a big place and what can we do to help the community?
“The lessons give girls practice in a safe place,” says Misangyi. “Practice to know that they can speak their minds and not worry about being judged or that they are wrong. When they do that more and more, they grow stronger and more confident, and thus more likely to carry through with that behavior.”
In addition to the curriculum, the heart of the program is centered on running. The participants represent a variety of activity levels—from those who have a hard time running and are obese to others who can run a full mile on the first day of the program.
As Misangyi explains, shoe funding is a huge part of the program’s needs.
“You simply can’t run in ballet slippers or flip flops,” she says.
And that’s where New Balance San Antonio steps in. As a local businessman focused on health, wellness and fitness, Rob Kaufman—proprietor of three New Balance stores in the San Antonio area—challenges others to contribute and participate.
Whether you adopt a running team, contribute t-shirts for a season or simply donate your time, Girls on the Run of Bexar County could use your help. Nicole Foy, Girls on the Run coach, sees firsthand just how far this support goes.
“The funding encouraged my team of girls to go the distance not just in their running training but in their lives,” she says. “We meet twice a week after school—a time that many of these girls could have spent in very unstructured and unhealthy ways.”
What Does the Future Hold?
When asked where she sees Girls on the Run of Bexar County in five years, Misangyi’s eyes light up.
“I see us spreading very quickly,” she comments. “Girls on the Run in St. Louis started similarly to us, and they grew to service 1,000 girls in a short period of time. I hope we are able to accomplish the same here in San Antonio—but this will only be possible with the support of strong community partners like New Balance.”
About Girls on the Run of Bexar County
Girls on the Run of Bexar County is a 501(c)3 independent council of Girls on the Run International, which has a network of 180+ locations across the United States and Canada. Established in 2010, Girls on the Run of Bexar County works to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. To learn more about the program, visit www.gotrsanantonio.org.