Social distancing didn’t stop Girls on the Run’s mission

Coronavirus Pandemic

We cannot run from COVID-19, but we can try to escape the negative emotions it brings.

Girls on the Run inspires young runners every day, and in the pandemic, the organization set a new goal, to be “here for her” in a whole new way.

What was designed to be a group activity to build confidence and camaraderie is now a mostly solitary pursuit for Sophia Schneiderman.

“It gets rid of all my stress and it makes me happy and makes me feel good inside,” she said. “It feels different when you are just running by yourself with no one around you.”

But she’s still going. And so is Yadira Montesdeoca.

“My body and my mind feel relaxed when I run,” she said. “It feels like a place that I could let out everything and I could refresh myself…It makes me feel good. It makes me feel I accomplished something.”

Like most activities, their after-school Girls on the Run club has gone virtual.

“I was excited that there was a club with all girls that lets you run with your friends and get rid of your stress and just have fun,” Sophia said.

“I miss it a lot because there is a lot of difference between being at home and being virtual reality versus being real life,” Yadira said.

Instead of gathering by the dozens for runs and the social-emotional lessons that define the program, the girls meet with their coaches online.

“We go on Zoom and there’s usually like three or four coaches and sometimes there’s usually like 10-15 girls,” Sophia said.

Jillian Eid is the executive director for Girls on the Run.

“Our big message is that we want you guys to keep moving,” she said. “We want you to keep showing up. And just because some things have changed, it doesn’t mean that our goals have changed.”

But for Yadira and Sophia, the lessons are just as real.

“At the end, I’m always really happy and it just helps me,” Sophia said. “We can still stay active.”

“This makes me healthy because when I’m not doing enough exercise I get kind of lazy and then I won’t want to do it,” Yadira said. “But when I start to do it, I feel much better and fresh. That’s cool!”

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