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'Girls On the Run' offers life lessons and fitness challenges

Each week, Girls On the Run coaches lead elementary school girls in lessons like practicing joy and building self confidence, all while training for a 5K

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Every Tuesday after school, a group of girls in 3rd to 5th grade get together to run the bus loop at Sheridan Hill Elementary in Clarence.

They count their laps around and receive a small reward for every other time they pass their coaches.

The day 2 On Your Side visited practice, the girls were gifted a bean or seed to add to a small vegetable garden they each took home.

Every bean or seed the girls collect is a symbol of the hard work they're doing to train for a 5K.

"Girls On the Run is a curriculum based program where we teach girls to find their voice, be self confident, learn to be a friend, learn to pick their friends, and then we integrate running into that," says Program Coordinator, Meghan Cavanaugh. "We got started about 10 years ago. We started with 43 girls and almost 15,000 have gone through our program since then."

Volunteer coaches Kristin Johnson and Jennifer Iusi have led this group for the past several seasons. Jennifer watched her daughter grow so much when she participated, she wanted to give back.

"I wanted to continue to volunteer my time because I feel very strongly that it's a great program for these girls, especially at the age they're at and what they're starting to experience socially and emotionally."

The Girls on the Run 5K will take place Sunday, June 2nd at UB North Campus at 9:30 a.m. For more information, visit https://www.gotrbuffalo.org/.