Local group helps young girls learn life skills and love running

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Girls on the Run Rio Grande aspires to serve girls in Bernalillo and Valencia counties by teaching them about physical and emotional health. Trained coaches use running and hands-on activities to develop girls’ social, emotional and physical skills between grades three and five.

“It’s a character-building program that incorporates running, healthy lifestyles, and healthy choices. We try to catch the girls just before they start middle school, which is a pivotal time for them,” said Council Director Angelica Turrieta.

The program works with local schools and serves as an after-school program through this school site. Turrieta said their goal for their spring 2022 season was to have 50 girls in the program, but they exceeded that and had 87 girls participate in nine schools in Albuquerque, Belen and Los Lunas.

Vanessa Tsai joined Girls on the Run when she was in third grade. “Being a girl in the program, I loved my coaches. I loved the program, I loved going there and being able to do something healthy while learning valuable lessons that I can use in my day-to-day life and as I grow,” Tsai said.

As an adult, she got involved in the board and started coaching in the 2020 circle,” Tsai said.

One of the lessons she learned as a child that stayed with her into adulthood was to use “I feel” statements. “I feel” statements are used when dealing with what the program calls uncomfortable emotions. “It reminded me to take a step back and calm my emotions a bit. Let me try to rephrase it so that I don’t regret the way I say certain things to people,” Tsai said.

The organization also offers a number of volunteer opportunities, including coaching. “We are always looking for different levels of volunteerism. Whether you want to be a coach, we will train you, you do not need to have any coaching experience. You don’t even have to be a runner. We have all the material, the whole program,” Turrieta said.

Rhonda Cox was part of the committee that brought the organization to New Mexico in 2011. She has been coaching for seven years and currently works with the girls at Northstar Elementary. “Girls on the Run gives girls confidence, physical activity and a way to connect and build community with each other, all in a safe team atmosphere as we train to run a 5K “, Cox said.

At the start of each practice, the girls will participate in an activity that follows the theme of that day. Then they stretch and warm up before starting their workout. Cox said they always try to make racing tricks a game so it’s fun for the girls. Afterwards, the girls come together for the recap where the girls have the chance to recognize the hard work of their teammates or the sportsmanship they have shown.

“Runaway girls have been just one of the closest and dearest things to my heart for 10 years now,” Cox said. “It helps girls to be stronger physically and emotionally, and also to work on their self-confidence, self-esteem, friendship skills, and life skills when they go out and live their lives outside of Girls. on the Run.”

The organization recently wrapped up its 10-week season with the 5K Mariposa Women Run, the culmination of all the training they underwent during the school year. They will announce registrations for the next season on their website. For more information on how to support the organization or to find out more about volunteering, visit their website.