FOR A GOOD CAUSE Girls on the Run

Danielle Fleckenstein, Executive Director


What is the mission of Girls on the Run?

Girls on the Run inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development (PYD) program that is designed to enhance girls’ social, psychological and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences. The program’s intentional curriculum places an emphasis on developing competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution in young girls through lessons that incorporate running and other physical activities.


Can you give me some background on the organization?

Girls on the Run uses running and other physical activities as a platform for teaching life skills and promoting holistic health outcomes for girls in grades 3 through 8. The curriculum includes lessons relevant for 8- to 13-year-old girls. Before the season, volunteer coaches participate in a National Coach Training Program, which prepares them to build relationships with girls, create a positive, inclusive environment, support individual improvement, and deliver the intentional curriculum. The 10-week curriculum includes lessons that specifically target helping girls improve in Competence, Confidence, Caring, Character, Connection, and Contribution. Girls learn critical life skills such as how to manage emotions, help others, make intentional decisions, and resolve conflict that they use at home, at school, and with friends. The season concludes with a celebratory 5K event. Completing a 5K gives the girls a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals.

Girls on the Run Upstate NY is an Independent Council of Girls on the Run International, which has a network of more than 200 locations across the United States and has served over one million girls throughout its 20-year history.


Why running? Of all the ways to reach out to and/or empower young women, why running? 

Running is just one component of the program!


Who is eligible to participate?

Any girls in 3rd through 8th grade located in one of the 10 counties we serve — Cayuga, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego, Seneca, St. Lawrence, and Tompkins.


How many girls are currently involved in the Syracuse-area programs? 

Our Syracuse area teams make up over 500 girls.


What kinds of programs do you offer?  

We offer a 10-week program in the fall and spring that meets twice a week. The season concludes with a celebratory 5k event.


What kind of impact do you have on the greater community?

The program inspires girls to build lives of purpose and to make a meaningful contribution to community and society. This comes to life through a key element of the Girls on the Run curricula when each team creates and executes a community service project.


How can girls sign up? What if an adult wants to volunteer? 

Girls can sign up via our website, and look to see if their school or community center has a site!  Anyone wishing to volunteer can also sign up on our website!  We are always looking for volunteers to help out in a variety of ways.  Whether helping put together team bags for the season, being involved as coach or helping out at our 5k!   We couldn’t do what we do without the help of volunteers!


Is there anything I didn’t ask that you think people should know?

This program has more impact on our young girls than you can imagine.  Seeing their face as they finish the 5k is an experience everyone should have.  There is such pride and confidence it can bring you to tears.