As the world continues to change around us, we at Girls on the Run of Northern Virginia are trying to stay on top of these changes. We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. While this has always been our vision, we recently doubled our efforts by intentionally incorporating inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) initiatives into our strategic planning.
A few highlights this season include establishing a snack program for participants facing food insecurity, adding community-based sites to mitigate transportation barriers, increasing the number of scholarships to reach more underserved populations, and ensuring coaches have the tools to accommodate lessons for participants with all physical and mental abilities.
During the inaugural season of our snack program, numerous volunteer groups and organizations donated enough snacks to feed 201 participants on nine teams who faced food insecurities. The goal is to expand the Snack Program to more teams during the Fall 2022 Season by partnering with more volunteer groups, clubs, and members of the community to provide healthy snack options.
To mitigate transportation barriers, GOTR NOVA is committed to increasing the number of “community” sites, such as apartment complexes, community centers or parks, offered each season. By providing access to teams within neighborhoods and outside participants’ front doors, we eliminate the need for transportation and expand access to underserved populations.
One such venture was established in 2019 between GOTR NOVA and Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to provide easily accessible Girls on the Run programming for their residents. Since then, 153 previously overlooked participants have been afforded the opportunity to participate in this transformational program.
In addition to those facing transportation barriers, prospective participants frequently face financial barriers as well. To address this, we have developed a robust financial assistance program that provides discounts and scholarships for roughly 35% of participants.
We wouldn’t be able to provide these arrangements without our generous donors, sponsors, and FundRunners. FundRunners are unique and central to GOTR NOVA’s fundraising strategy, as they raise scholarship funds that directly support the participants, and they themselves also participate in a training and educational program similar to what the program participants experience.
By ensuring GOTR is accessible to all students throughout Northern Virginia, Girls on the Run of NOVA is building the future generation of strong leaders through life-changing programming.
Annie, a Girls on the Run participant whose parents were told she may never learn to walk, as a result of bilateral congenital clubfoot, says
"at Girls on the Run, I feel accepted and confident in my abilities."
Annie’s parents enrolled her in Girls on the Run, where she became confident in her true self with the help of kindness, acceptance and friendship from her teammates and coaches. After crossing the 5K finish line, her mom shared that
“Girls on the Run isn’t about Annie’s inability...It is about her abilities. It is about her.”
Kids of all abilities are encouraged to experience this life-changing program. Despite its name, participants are encouraged to move and engage in the manner they are able and most comfortable, whether that is running, walking, skipping, hopping or rolling.
In addition to a curriculum that is adaptable to meet the needs of all participants, coaches are provided with resources written by the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability to give guidance on how to make activities inclusive of people with disabilities.
GOTR NOVA is committed to continue providing exceptional programming to all throughout Northern Virginia. Join us in our mission as we inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. To learn more about our IDEA initiatives and transformational program, visit www.gotrnova.org.