Encouraging girls to recognize their inner strength and uniqueness is at the core of Girls on the Run (GOTR), an international nonprofit organization that uses exercise as a means of reaching these goals. Girls in third through fifth grade meet twice a week in small teams, learning life skills through interactive lessons and running games. Participants learn critical social, psychological, and physical skills throughout the 10-week program. At the end of each season, the girls and their running buddies complete a 5K running event which gives them a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals. GOTR San Diego recently held its end-of-season 5K in December.

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Heart & Sole is the organization’s program for fifth through eighth graders, where girls learn more about themselves, explore new ideas, cultivate empathy, strengthen connections, and further develop life skills.

GOTR San Diego was established in 2006. It has served nearly 7,000 girls in San Diego over the past 11 years, including a program at Stone Ranch Elementary. For more information go to www.gotrsd.org.