Written by Jessica Seay, proud AmeriCorps member serving on the New Schools for Baton Rouge team at Merrydale Elementary School.

Students participating in Girls on the Run and Let Me Run programs in schools all around East Baton Rouge came together to participate in a 5K held at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. These students have been training afterschool all semester in preparation for this race which was spectated by their parents. The students were also joined by their coaches who completed the race alongside them.

Girls on the Run and Let Me Run are afterschool programs that teach participating students important life skills such as confidence and perseverance as they work towards the goal of running a 5K. At Merrydale Elementary School and Melrose Elementary School, these programs are led by AmeriCorps members. When asked why she thinks the program is important for the girls at Merrydale Elementary School, Second Year AmeriCorps member and Girls on the Run Coach Dalia Al-Hadi said:

“Girls on the Run helps girls by allowing them to meet new people within their schools and build friendships. It helps them to find their star-power which resembles them building self-confidence, discovering their positive characteristic traits, and working on bettering themselves within their community. It allows girls to engage in physical activity, and it provides a structured, safe space for students to express themselves in after school.”

Coach Dalia also pointed out that she has enjoyed seeing some of the older girls be able to take on leadership roles on their team this season. This past week, the members of Girls on the Run at Merrydale Elementary School took a break from their 5K training to prepare Christmas cards and goodie bags for members of the Homeless population in Baton Rouge. 

The boys of the Let Me Run program at Merrydale Elementary School have also been working all semester long to prepare for this race. A 4th grader at Merrydale was the first to finish out of all of the students at his school. In response to finishing the race, he said:

“Let Me Run is great because you’re learning teamwork and how to be fit!”

He waited at the finish line cheering on his teammates until each member of his team had completed the race.

The impact of this program showed through the way the participating students encouraged each other from start to finish. The students’ new-found strength and confidence were evident as they celebrated alongside their coaches and parents in the aftermath of completing the race.


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