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Christine Benedict Describes the Life-Changing Impact of Girls on the Run

From episode: Christine Benedict: Fueling Resilience and Compassion in Young Girls

Now, how long have you been involved with Girls on the Run? So I got involved in Girls on the Run back in 2007 as a board member. I have been a lifelong runner, started when I was in the sixth grade and ran through college. The Division III ran cross -country and track and had been running my whole life. When a friend reached out, they indicated that this organization was seeking board members and I was at a place in my career where I could take on that kind of volunteer role. And so I joined the board, but almost immediately then wanted to get closer to the action, wanted to get closer to the program, so I started coaching in 2008 and coached for 10 years while I had a whole other career in higher education. So I was just one of those community volunteers that coached at a few sites in the area and then made a career change in 2019 to step into the executive director role. So now I've been with the organization professionally for four years. Wow. So as the volunteer, you coached for 10 years, right? Now in that time, have any of the girls that you coached come back and become volunteer coaches? They have. They have. They have. So it made a huge impact on them. It's pretty incredible, yes. Wow. That just made my heart skip a little beat. I know. I know. We've been around sort of just long enough where those kids are. They're old enough now to be giving back as volunteers. I have a few that will be graduating from high school this year, a few who just graduated from college this month. So yeah, so it's exciting to see. And then yes, just a couple that are now giving back as coaches, but it's pretty exciting to see it coming full circle. And so have they expressed to you how much of a difference that Girls on the Run made in their lives? Oh, Karla, it's pretty incredible, yes. So one of the things that we're really fortunate to be able to do is we are now able to offer two college scholarships to past Girls on the Run participants. And so every year we solicit applications. This past year we had about 55 applications, which represents about 10 % of the kids who participated 10 years ago, which I feel like is a bit of a win, just being able to track down email addresses and contacts for kids. So 55 kids have shared, just this year we have a few years worth of applications to look back to, telling these incredible stories of the impact the program had, again, eight, nine, or 10 years earlier, and the lessons they remember, the friendships they made, the activity levels that it inspired. It is so rewarding to get to read those applications and see what kind of impact is so lasting with the program.

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