HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - When much of society went virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic, Girls on the Run, a nonprofit that empowers young girls to be joyful, healthy and confident, was faced with a big challenge.
The organization's curriculum integrates physical activity and social emotional learning, two things that become difficult while social distancing.
“We’re faced with these difficult circumstances, but there’s still opportunity for us to make an impact and still rely on those values that drive us during a regular season when we’re not dealing with a pandemic,” Girls on the Run Chesapeake and Portsmouth program director Emily Matisko said.
Hampton Roads is split up into four different Girls on the Run programs. They operate in more than 100 area schools and community sites.
While the coronavirus pandemic has kept the programs from meeting in person, coaches are able to connect with their girls virtually.
“They’re so excited to see their coaches, and to connect and see their friends," Matisko said. "We've gotten a lot of responses from parents who are like oh my gosh these lessons are awesome. They really get the whole family involved as well, even though the lessons are geared toward the girls in the program.”
Each week, the girls receive new lessons, like Caring Connections, which teaches them about connections they can make with those outside of their comfort zones while also implementing physical activity.
The girls' big event at the end of each season is a 5k race. The spring program won't get to participate in a typical race, but they'll still get to run the Virtual Mermaid 5k in May.
“It’s a great opportunity to still celebrate these girls and all that they’ve been accomplishing."