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Celebrating Girls on the Run in Rutland - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Celebrating Girls on the Run in Rutland

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RUTLAND, Vt. - "Is it a little bit harder to cooperate with people who are different than us?" asks Christine Cirelli.

It's not unusual to find her surrounded by students. She's a third grade teacher who had a dream for her school.

"It had been one of my goals to have a Girls on the Run program at Christ the King for a number of years," she says.

 A year ago, that dream came true.

"It was the highlight of my day! We practiced two days a week. We both looked forward to it. It's just fun to be around girls that are just that happy and excited to run, to share to play together!" she says.

Twice a week, she meets with her Girls on the Run team made up of third through fifth graders. They start by talking, and on this day, cooperation was the topic. Then they play a game that applies back to the lesson.

"We had to do it over a couple of times, then we got the hang of it at the end," says Hailey Corrigan with Girls on the Run.

Things went so well last year, Christ the King School added Girls on Track for sixth through eighth graders this year. Christ the King is one of 140 schools in Vermont with the Girls on the Run program. Nearly 3,000 girls participate statewide. 

"When you have a positive attitude things can be more enjoyable and be easier for you," says Mary Guggenberger, the principal and the older group's coach. 

"Last year it was a good introduction to grades 3-5, but I think it's really beneficial to the middle school girls. It encourages them to be strong and confident and to make good healthy choices for themselves and not what other people want them to do," she says.

After a warm up to get them ready, they're off, heading down Killington Avenue.

"This program is not a running program. A lot of people see us out there with Girls on the Run T-shirts. It's really not about the running," she says.

She says the running is just part of the life lessons these girls get.

Reporter Julie Kelley: "What do you think the best part is?"
 
Olivia Calvin, Girls on the Run Participant: "Just having self confidence and having fun with my friends and I like that I can just be myself here and I feel comfortable."

Stephanie Allen, Sixth Grader: "Self confidence and how you can believe in yourself and just keep going!"

Sophia Tedesto, Girls on Track Participant: "It's changed me by how I act to friends and others. Like, I used to kind of be like grumpy before and i was bored a lot, but now we have other activities that we can do."

 Rob Lukaskiewicz is a coach and also a dad to Alisa.

 "I think it's fantastic," he says. "She's a runner and I'm a runner and so it's nice to get in this environment and run together and we don't usually get that opportunity. So it really created the condition for that."
 
"Yah, I love running with my Dad ... it makes it a lot more fun," Alisa adds.

Even the coaches have been inspired by Girls on the Run. Their goal is for positive changes every step of the way.

Girls on the Run requires that there be two coaches for every 15 girls and 3 coaches for 20 girls.

Some schools and communities have waiting lists because there aren't enough coaches.

That includes Barre City Elementary, Mallets Bay School, Williston Central School and the city of Norwich. If you want more information on how to bring it to your school, visit http://girlsontherunvermont.org/
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