Tutu skirts and bright colors filled Keeneland at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning for the annual Girls on the Run Central Kentucky 5K race. Despite morning showers and muddy trails, young girls made their way to the finish line with smiles on their faces.
Girls in third through eighth grade can participate in GOTR, which is a national nonprofit program that encourages young girls to stay active. GOTR partners with local schools and organizations to use physical activities to build confidence and teamwork skills in young girls.
The 10-week program began in September and included girls from across 20 central Kentucky counties. Teams met twice a week for 75 minutes to learn the GOTR curriculum to help them succeed throughout life. These lessons teach subjects like how to compromise, build strong friendships, explore personal emotions and overcome bullying. The end of their 10-week season commenced with the 5K.
Yazmine Laparra, a young participant in the program for several years said her favorite part about the race was the teamwork.
"When one of us slowed down, someone waited for them. The reason I continue to participate in this race is because everyone is always there for each other," she said.
While GOTR inspires young girls to be healthy, joyful and self-confident, the program also helped inspire a mother of two. Vikky Flynn explained that her two daughters’ involvement in the program encouraged her to focus on her own health. Her daughters have spent the last five years participating in Girls on the Run and she has always been there to support them.
“My girls found out about the program through their school system and have been participants ever since. I love the program because it’s an activity they look forward to doing every year with friends and they have both even encouraged me. Their excitement for running has encouraged me to focus on my own health and be role models for them, just as they are for me,” said Flynn.
There is an opportunity for adults to also get involved in the program to work as mentors and coaches for the girls throughout the season.
Flynn’s daughter, Sarah Laparra, a returning participant to the GOTR program said, “I love this program because I have met so many new friends. The race is my favorite part because I get to run with them and we each help each other accomplish our personal goals.”
To learn more and for information on how to get involved with Girls on the Run Central Kentucky, visit the program’s website.