A dedicated, fun-loving group of fourth- and fifth-grade girls have become the pride of Curtis Strange Elementary School.
Girls on the Run is a national nonprofit organization that teaches social, emotional, physical and behavioral skills to successfully navigate life experiences.
The highlight of the season is a 5K rockstar event — open to the public — to showcase months of hard work and celebrate accomplishments.
“Mostly, this program highlights being a good person, feeling good about yourself and pushing yourself to be the best you can be,” said Curtis Strange coach and special education teacher Alison Inglehart.
“You can learn an awful lot about yourself during those three miles. When they cross the finish line, they’re very proud of themselves. We’re very proud of them too.”
In four years, the Curtis Strange team has nearly tripled in size.
Girls on the Run was introduced by Kenosha resident Crystal Callahan, who represents Kenosha Unified School District as one of the Girls on the Run Southeastern Wisconsin board members.
“The team-building skills these girls are learning is invaluable,” Callahan said. “As they get older, they’ll be able to lean on those skills during those roadblocks they’ll face in life.”
With minimal program costs, Girls on the Run is looking to expand to other KUSD schools. All that is needed is volunteers to organize classroom sessions and outdoor practices.
Curtis Strange has eight coaches.
“In today’s day and age, for them to volunteer their time, they must see the results,” Callahan said. “They see what it does internally for the girls and the relationships that are built.”
Girls on the Run boasts a fall and spring season. While there are several strong runners on the team, Inglehart said a background in running is not necessary.
“You don’t have to know how to run. In fact, you don’t even have to like running,” Inglehart said. “You can walk, skip, jump … do whatever you want. Some of the girls really like running and are competitive. Some of the girls just like the camaraderie.”
The Girls on the Run 5K run in Milwaukee is traditionally held on Sunday afternoons. This season, it’s on a Friday night.
“The atmosphere is phenomenal,” Iglehart said. “They have music going. Everyone is cheering. It’s really a cool experience.”