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Girls on the Run Inspires Girls to Recognize and Achieve Their Potential Through the Power of Running

New SoleMates Program Seeks Adult Athletes to Go the Extra Mile to Support Local Councils

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teen and pre-teen girls face peer pressure, cultural stereotypes and difficult choices every day that can have a dramatic impact on their futures. That is why former Ironman triathlete Molly Barker founded Girls on the Run, a non-profit prevention program that prepares girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living.

The innovative program combines training for a 5k event with life-changing, confidence-boosting lessons that enhance the social, physical and mental health of eight to twelve year old girls. There are more than 3,100 Girls on the Run sites across the United States and Canada.

"I came up with the concept of Girls on the Run to provide girls with the tools to embrace their own unique gifts and talents. Girls today face a tremendous amount of pressure to conform to certain social and cultural stereotypes," said Girls on the Run founder Molly Barker.

"Running is a shared experience. It provides an incredible sense of accomplishment and joy when crossing the finish line, but even more so, it encourages personal awareness of the mental strength we possess as we train and work to reach our goal," said Barker.

SoleMates Fundraising Program

In May 2009, Girls on the Run launched SoleMates, an adult charity running program where female and male athletes who run marathons, half marathons or other events, raise money for local Girls on the Run councils. SoleMates participants agree to raise a minimum of $262 in conjunction with their event to donate to the Girls on the Run council of their choice. ($262 comes from the 26.2 miles in a marathon.)

Sarah Marsden from Minneapolis is participating in the SoleMates program in November, when she runs in the New York City marathon.

"I chose Girls on the Run as my charity because I wish that I would have had an organization like it when I was growing up. I was an over-weight girl who led a very sedentary lifestyle. Running changed my life," said Marsden. "The first time I ran, I could only run a mile. But now -- eight years later -- I've run eight marathons, three half-marathons and several 5ks. My self-esteem and self-image have sky-rocketed, but above all, I feel healthy and accomplished."

SoleMates is nationally presented by Horizon Fitness. Girls on the Run is also a partner charity of the Chicago Marathon and attends other marathon expos throughout the year. SoleMates runners participated in over 112 events in 2008, raising over $325,000.

To learn more or sign up for the SoleMates program, visit

The Need for Girls on the Run

Substance and alcohol abuse, early onset of sexual activity, eating disorders, depression, suicide and bullying are all too common occurrences today. Girls on the Run aims to equip girls with the resources they need to weather the teenage years and reach their fullest potential.

Shocking statistics like these show the need for organizations like Girls on the Run:

  • 75 percent of middle school principals say bullying or harassment is a serious problem.(1)
  • 42 percent of first through third grade girls want to be thinner, and 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat.(2)
  • Viewing a fashion magazine lowers the self-esteem of 80 percent of women, and the average fashion model is thinner that 98 percent of American women.(3)
  • Girls feel and perceive themselves to be less competent than boys in physical activity.(4)

How Girls on the Run Began

Molly Barker began running at the age of 15, when she found herself stuck in the "girl box," the imaginary place girls go around fifth grade where the pressure to conform to cultural and stereotypical standards interferes with their healthy social, emotional and physical development.

Molly kept running, and during an emotional sunset run in 1993, she found the inspiration that grew into Girls on the Run. In 1996, she developed the first program with just 13 participants, and in 2000, Girls on the Run International, a 501c-3 organization, was born. Girls on the Run now serves over 52,000 girls each year.

To learn more about Girls on a Run or to find a council near you, visit

(1) Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; National Association of Secondary School Principals

(2) National Eating Disorders Association

(3) Dr. Susie Orbach, London School of Economics

(4) The Tucker Center Report on Developing Physically Active Girls

SOURCE Girls on the Run

SOURCE Girls on the Run
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