Girls on the Run of Greater Detroit

Greater Detroit

GOTR of Greater Detroit runs separate programs for girls in different grade levels at school, one program for 3rd-5th grades and distinct program for 6th-8th grades (called Heart & Sole), so we can focus our curricula to the most appropriate social development areas.

So what does Girls on the Run do?

One girl put it this way, “I learned that I am the boss of my brain.” Girls on the Run inspires girls to take charge of their lives and define the future on their terms. It’s a place where girls learn that they can. No limits. No constraints. Only opportunities to be remarkable.

How do we do it?

Lots of ways, but we start with helping the girls get a better understanding of who they are and what’s important to them. Then we look at the role of teams and healthy relationships. And, finally, we explore how girls can positively connect with and shape the world.

And remember, we believe that life-changing experiences can be fun too—for everyone—the girls, coaches, families and other volunteers. So don’t be surprised when you hear laughter along with self-reflection and see beaming smiles across the beautiful, confident faces of our girls.

Me + Relationships + Community

Meeting twice a week in small teams of 8-16 girls, we teach life skills through fun, engaging lessons that celebrate the joy of movement. The 20-lesson curriculum is taught by certified Girls on the Run® coaches and includes three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large. Over the course of the program, girls will develop and improve competence, feel confidence in who they are, develop strength of character, respond to others and oneself with care and compassion, create positive connections with peers and adults, and make a meaningful contribution to community and society.

Power through Service

Acknowledging that accomplishment has many flavors, each team creates and executes a local community service project. This experience demonstrates to girls the unimaginable strength that comes from helping others.

Up and Running

At each season’s conclusion, the girls and their running buddies complete a 5k running event. In some cities this is a large, community wide event and in others, it’s an inspiring gathering of friends and family. Completing a 5k gives the girls a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals. The results are the same—making the seemingly impossible, possible.

Simple, engaging and extraordinary. The result? Healthy, confident girls who can.

Over a period of 10 weeks, girls in the 3rd through 5th grade participate in an after-school program like no other. Designed to allow every girl to recognize her inner strength, the Girls on the Run curriculum inspires girls to define their lives on their own terms. Throughout the season, the girls make new friends, build their confidence and celebrate all that makes them unique.

The Girls on the Run lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development.  Participants explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at this age.  They also develop important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences. We start with helping the girls get a better understanding of who they are and what’s important to them.  Then, we look at the importance of team work and healthy relationships.  And, finally, the girls explore how they can positively connect with and shape the world.

Physical activity is woven into our program to inspire an appreciation of fitness and to build habits that lead to a lifetime of health.  At the end of each three month session, the girls participate in a Girls on the Run 5k event.  This celebratory, non-competitive event is the culminating experience of the curriculum.  Completing the 5k gives the girls a tangible understanding of the confidence that comes through accomplishment as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals.  Crossing the finish line is a defining moment when the girls realize that even the seemingly impossible IS possible.

Today’s middle-school girls face many challenges and obstacles that can affect their emotional and physical well-being. The Heart & Sole curriculum is designed to address these challenges by empowering them to make thoughtful and healthy decisions. Like Girls on the Run, the Heart & Sole curriculum is delivered over the course of 10 and addresses the societal, mental and emotional challenges particular to their age.

Like the Girls on the Run curricula, we begin by encouraging the girls to examine and better understand who they are and what’s important to them. Once they have a deeper awareness of their individual values, we look at the role of teams and healthy relationships. Lastly, the girls explore how they can positively connect with and shape the world.

The curriculum allows for more mature processing around certain topics including eating disorders, internet safety, relationships, cyber-bullying and tobacco and alcohol use. The girls discuss these subjects on an in-depth level and use their personal experiences to shape thought-provoking discussion. The Heart & Sole curriculum provides girls with the skills to shut out the noise of the external world that is attempting to limit who she is and to instead listen to her individual truth – the one that will lead her toward an enriching and contented life.

Running is also incorporated into the curriculum. We use physical activity to inspire and motivate girls throughout the program, to encourage lifelong health and fitness, and most importantly, to build confidence through accomplishment. At the end of each season, the girls and their running buddies complete a 5k running event which gives the girls a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals. This culminating celebratory 5k event is a transformative moment when the girls realize that even the seemingly impossible IS possible.

Girls on the Run International has evaluated program efficacy since 2002 when Rita Debate, Ph.D., MPH, CHES, developed a formal evaluation tool entitled “Girls on the Run: An Assessment of Self-Esteem, Body Image and Eating Attitudes.”Several preliminary descriptive and quasi-experimental studies have been conducted since that time – specific information and findings are included below.

2011 Academic Evaluation
2007 Academic Evaluation
2006 Academic Evaluation
2005 Academic Evaluation
2002 Academic Evaluation

Phase I: Pilot Study

A pilot assessment of Girls on the Run was implemented in 2002 using a one group pre-post-test design.[1]Girls on the Run program participants from 28 program sites (n=322) in 5 geographic areas representing a range of metropolitan areas and SES were assessed. A self-report survey including the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale[2], the child/adolescent version of the Silhouette Ratings Scale[3], and an adapted version of the Children’s Eating Attitudes Test (ChEAT)[4] was used to assess self-esteem, body size satisfaction, and eating attitudes and behaviors.  Pre- to post-test improvements were significant (p<.05) for self-esteem, eating attitudes and behaviors, and body size satisfaction.

Phase II: Preliminary Study.

Building upon the pilot study, a more expansive study was implemented in2005 using a convenience sample of 20 councils representing four geographic areas using a non-experimental, single-group pre-post- intervention design of Girls on the Run and Girls on Track (n=1034).[5, 6] Participants completed a self-report survey including the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale[2] to assess global self-esteem, the child/adolescent version of the Schematic Figural Scale[3] to assess body image, one question from the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey[7] to assess vigorous physical activity frequency, and an adapted version of the Commitment to Physical Activity Scale (CPAS).[8] Statistically significant pre-post improvements (p>.01) occurred for self-esteem, body size satisfaction, and vigorous physical activity frequency within the last week.[9] An increase in overall commitment to PA also occurred as well as a decrease in negative attitudes towards PA. Both before and after the intervention, vigorous PA frequency was significantly correlated to PA commitment (p<0.01).[8]

When stratified by number of times participating in the program, first time participants saw significant (p<.01) gains in self-esteem, body size satisfaction, commitment to physical activity, and PA frequency. Similarly, second time participants had significant increases in self-esteem, body size satisfaction, and PA frequency. Girls who participated in the program three or more times did not show any significant changes from pre- to post-intervention.[9] When stratified by age (≤10 years old; >11 years) both groups had statistically significant pre- to post-intervention differences (p<.01) in self-esteem, body size satisfaction, and PA frequency. Older girls also had increased commitment to PA.[9] Results indicated two key findings. First, participation in the Girls on the Run and Girls on Track programs observed increases in commitment to be physically active; this is particularly important because commitment is an important determinant of long-term physical activity maintenance.[10-12]Second, findings indicated age-related differences in physical activity commitment scores. More specifically, pre-intervention commitment scores were lower among older girls compared to those ≤10 years of age. However, physical activity commitment scores significantly increased from pre- to post- intervention in 11-15 year old girls. These results are valuableas physical activity declines in girls occur as early as late elementary school. Results from this study werepresented at the annual meetings for the American Public Health Association, Eating Disorders Research Society, Society for Behavioral Medicine, and the American Academy of Health Behavior.

Phase III:

Quasi-experimental study. A longitudinal quasi-experimental study was implemented in 2009 to evaluate Girls on the Run intervention effects among 877 participants categorized into one of three groups (never, newly, and previously exposed to the intervention). A 64-item self-report survey measured participant psychological and physical assets at three time-points. Nested random effects ANOVA models were used to compare demographic factors and psychological and physical assets between exposure groups and to compare longitudinal differences in these developmental assets. After adjustment for multiple comparisons, previous program participants had significantly higher physical activity commitment (p<.01) and physical activity levels (p<.05) at pre-intervention than never exposed. From pre- to post-intervention body image improved in never and newly exposed participants, which persisted through follow-up in the comparison group. Physical activity increased from pre-intervention to follow-up among never and newly exposed participants (all p<.05).

Phase IV:

Longitudinal study. Drs. Maureen Weiss and Rita DeBateare in the process of developing a rigorous and longitudinal study design to determine the effectiveness of Girls on the Run having a significant positive effect on positive youth development outcomes, including physical (activity frequency, intensity, duration), psychological (e.g., body image, self-esteem, intrinsic motivation), and social assets (e.g., positive adult and peer relationships, resistance to peer pressure to engage in risky behaviors) and health promoting behaviors and outcomes.

  1. DeBate, R.D. and S.H. Thompson, Girls on the Run: Improvements in self-esteem, body size satisfaction and eating attitudes/behaviors. Eating and Weight Disorders, 2005. 10: p. 25-32.
  2. Wylie, R., Rosenberg self-esteem scale (RSE). Measures of self-concept. 1989, University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln. p. 24-35.
  3. Collins, M., Body figure perceptions and preferences among preadolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 1991. 10: p. 199-208.
  4. Maloney, M., J. McGuire, and S. Daniels, Reliability testing of a children’s version  of the Eating Attitudes Test. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 1988. 27: p. 541-543.
  5. DeBate, R.D., Y. Zhang, and S.H. Thompson, Changes in commitment to PA among 8-to11-year-old girls participating in a curriculum-based running program. American Journal of Health Education, 2007. 38(5): p. 277-284.
  6. DeBate, R.D., et al., Changes in psychosocial factors and physical activity frequency among 3rd to 8th grade girls who participated in a developmentally focused youth sport program: A preliminary study. Journal of School Health, 2009. 79(10): p. 474-484.
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System 2007.  2007  [cited 2009; Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htm.
  8. DeBate, R.D., J. Huberty, and K. Pettee, Pyschometric properties of the commitment to physical activity scale. American Journal of Health Behavior, 2009. 33(4): p. 425-434.
  9. DeBate, R.D., et al., Changes in psychosocial factors and physical activity frequency among 3rd to 8th grade girls who participated in a developmentally focused youth sport program: A preliminary study. Journal of School Health, 2009: p. Submitted, 7/31/08.
  10. Burke, P. and D. Reitzes, An identify theory approach to commitment. Soc Psychol Q, 1991. 54(30): p. 239-251.
  11. Corbin, C., et al., Commitment to physical activity. Int J Sport Psychol, 1987. 18: p. 215-222.
  12. Martin, K. and H. Hausenblaus, Psychological commitment to exercise and eating disorder symptomology among female aerobic instructors. Sport Psychology, 1998. 12: p. 180-190.

How do we play a role in our girls’ lives?

Lots of ways, but we start with helping the girls get a better understanding of who they are and what’s important to them. Then we look at the role of teams and healthy relationships. And, finally, we explore how girls can positively connect with and shape the world. And remember, we believe that life-changing experiences can be fun too—for everyone—the girls, coaches, families and other volunteers. So don’t be surprised when you hear laughter along with self-reflection and see beaming smiles across the beautiful, confident faces of our girls.

There is no team at my daughter’s school – can she still participate?

Yes! Most of our teams are open to the community, even if they take place at a different school than your daughter attends. View our team locations. No team near you? Consider starting a team at your daughter’s school – Click Here

How do I get a team started at my daughter’s school?

View our New Site Application here! Basically, you need space (to run and for activities – can be a school, park, community center, etc), approval (from school or site administration) and people (3 coaches to lead practices and a Site Liaison to coordinate the team). We provide the rest, and we’ll help guide you through the application process if you have questions! Contact us with questions.

I can’t afford the program fees – can my daughter still participate?

Yes! We never turn a girl away due to inability to pay. We will work with you to provide registration at a cost that is affordable to you. Contact your local Y to complete a scholarship form.

It looks like your season has already started – can my daughter still participate?

We accept new registrations through each team’s 2nd practice. After that time, we cannot accept any new team members. Your daughter is welcome to join us for our GOTR 5K (open to the community!), and we invite you to sign up for our mailing list so that you receive notification before registration opens next season.

How do I sign up to coach a Girls on the Run team?

It’s easy – complete a Coach Application! We’ll contact you within 7 days with more information, next steps and to place you with the team that works best for you.

I don’t have any experience – can I still coach?

Absolutely! No experience necessary to coach – and you don’t need to be a runner, either! Just an encouraging, enthusiastic role model for young girls. We provide training, detailed practice plans, and an awesome coaching team to ensure you have all the support you need. Complete a Coach Application now!

It looks like your season has already started – can I still coach?

Yes! Complete a Coach Application, and we’ll contact you soon about any current openings or how to coach the following season!

I want to volunteer, but I don’t have time to coach – what’s the best way get involved?

We have many volunteer options other than coaching – join us as a Running Buddy, committee member, special event volunteer, or our administrative volunteer team (Team Adelaide).

Simple, engaging and extraordinary. The result? Healthy, confident girls who can.