A transformational learning program in Amherst has been working to build up young girls ands give them the confidence to take on anything in the future.
Right now, they want your old shoes.
A Girls on the Run team in Amherst is collecting unwanted shoes to donate to the Nike ReUSE a Shoe program. The donated footwear will be ground up and turned material for athletic surfaces, shoes and even apparel.
“We thought it was kind of neat that we were going to do something for somebody else like making a playground,” said Girls on the Run member Avery Smith.
The shoe donation box can be found in the Amherst Town Library for the next two weeks.
This choice for a community service project works well with the theme of Girls on the Run, which teaches young girls life skills and encourages positive growth through a 10-week program that culminates in a celebratory 5K running event.
“The girls were really excited to do something that had to do with running for their project,” said Girls on the Run coach Laura Kimball.
The excitement was almost impossible to miss as the girls worked on putting together this project on Friday at Wilkin’s Elementary School. They divided up into groups to tackle the posters, donation box design and announcement to promote it amongst students.
Each girl was involved in the process and led by the positive encouragement and feedback from their coaches.
Girls on the Run is a national non-profit program to empower these girls like these, and the parents can see the results. Kimball and co-coach Shannon Daniel only started with the program this year and have already seen the positive influences in their daughters.
“I have definitely seen a change in my daughter,” said Kimball. “All of these little things are clicking in them. They will tell me that they heard somebody being picked on in the bus, and stood up for them, or that somebody was being mean it didn’t change how they felt about themselves. These are little things that we can ingrain in them now, so when they become teenagers the world will be so different.”
There are two Girls on The Run teams for the fall program, with 26 girls total from the Wilkins School lead by four volunteers.
All of the girls on Friday’s team showed great enthusiasm and spirit for the program. Young Maddie Daniel said she loved hanging out with her friends while running, while Juliette Rafuse came back again this year because she loved it so much.
“The main point of girls on the run is teaching them that it is okay to be yourself,” said Kimball. “We just want them to be proud of who they are, and what better way to do it than teaching them that they can run a 5K. I think a program like this should be in every single school.”
The two teams of girls will have their race on Sunday, but it is obvious that they all have a winning attitude like they have already crossed the finished line.