BOISE, Idaho — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many groups and organizations to change their usual models, including those like Girls on the Run.
The program is celebrating 20 years of service in Southwest Idaho, helping girls from third to eighth grade develop and enhance their social, psychological, and physical competencies to navigate life experiences. The after-school program meets twice a week for eight weeks as coaches share 16 life lessons with young girls, boosting their social-emotional learning by pairing it with physical activity.
Girls on the Run had to suspend the remainder of its spring season back in March, and leaders have spent the last few months redesigning curriculum to fit school district educational models and social distancing measures.
Program Coordinator Amy Ornelas says it's a critical program for Idaho's girls, especially during a pandemic.
"Now, even more than ever, girls might be experiencing social isolation or a lack of resources that their school usually provides them so we're here just to provide some extra support for girls, giving them a safe and secure environment to talk about their emotions and everything they've been going through during this time," explains Ornelas.
Since the pandemic began, Girls on the Run has been working to modify its programs to make sure safety remains a priority. That includes following all guidelines from local health districts, meeting outside, social distancing, enhanced cleaning and hygiene, and providing and using face coverings.
This fall, Girls on the Run is also introducing new, all-virtual teams for girls that don't live near an in-person team or prefer to not meet in-person due to the pandemic.
"Because we have virtual teams, we have the ability to pivot our in-person teams virtually if a school experiences a closure," says Ornelas.
Registration is open now. The next Girls on the Run season starts the week of September 14. Financial assistance is available for those families that need it. The program is set to wrap up with small in-person 5Ks or a virtual 5K instead of the usual large 5K.