Girls on the Run Rio Grande is raising awareness

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Their running shoes are laced up, and after a year of setting up the non-profit organization, Girls on the Run Rio Grande, is ready to start hitting the pavement.

But the organization, which aims at educating and preparing preteen girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living through running, is asking for help in raising start-up costs of $15,000 to begin the program this fall.

GOTR, serving Valencia and Bernalillo counties, has raised $3,800 and is continuing to raise funds by hosting an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner at Fat Sats Bar & Grill in Belen from 4 to 6 p.m., Sunday, April 29.

These funds will cover an initial licensing fee of $7,500, scholarships for participant registration fees, mandatory training costs and other costs associated with starting the program.

Girls on the Run is a 12-week course for girls in third through eighth grades that combines training for a 5K running event with interactive fitness and self-esteem curriculum to inspire positive development. Life skills lessons, taught after school, provide girls with the necessary tools to make positive decisions.

"We are excited about educating and empowering girls at an early age in order to help avoid risky, adolescent behaviors such as substance/alcohol abuse, depression, suicide, eating disorders and unhealthy lifestyles," said Carol Castillo, council director.

At the end of each session, participants complete a 5K running event and a community service project.

This program has been shown, through studies, to improve body image, eating attitudes, self-esteem and sense of identity, and promote an active lifestyle in program participants, according to a press release.

"People want to know if this is going to matter to girls later on, because it's not worth doing it if it's only a fun thing for 12 weeks," Castillo said. "I wouldn't take it on if it didn't affect them throughout their life."

Castillo, who has worked as the school nurse at La Merced Elementary School for five years, decided to establish a local chapter of the program after searching for a way to help promote health in girls.

"Not only are a great percentage of the students physically unhealthy, but many are socially and emotionally unhealthy as well," she said. "Self-esteem and self confidence are often low and many girls lack the skills and ambition to live healthy lives."

The program, serving more than 100,000 girl a year, is offered in more than 190 cities across North America.

Tickets for the all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner can be purchased at the door on the day of the event for $10 for adults and $6 for children ages 4 to 10.

To learn more information or volunteer for the program, call Carol Castillo at 681-0039, or email her at outofthegirlbox@hotmail.com.

To donate funds to GOTR, deposit money at Wells Fargo Bank under the Girls on the Run Rio Grande account.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.