On Thursday I traveled to Mylan Park Elementary School and met with the director of the Monongalia County GOTR, Laurie Abildso. After emailing for a few months, it was nice to finally put a name with a face! We chatted a bit about the organization and then we observed the girls’ practice outside.
The girls started out in the school’s gymnasium by running a few warm-up laps. They then met up in the middle of the floor for a brief meeting with the coaches.
After this they headed outside for one of the organization’s group activities. In the first activity the girls had to jump to different pieces of paper that contained certain foods and good food habits. They had to jump to the one that they participated in.
The next activity consisted of the girls sitting around discussing healthy foods and which food group they belonged in. They then were asked to list 4 foods they had recently eaten. Finally, they lined up in two single-file lines for a short relay race. The coaches stood at one end of the outside basketball court with the food groups listed on different sheets of paper. The girls were then to race to the coaches and place one of their listed foods with the appropriate food group. This consisted of a lot of giggling and cheering.
After a few rounds of this, the excited lines of girls had moved nearly halfway across the court!
The girls then returned to the center of the court for a brief stretch and discussion session. The coaches read the listed foods and asked which of the girls liked each food. Shockingly, brussel sprouts and spinach were two very popular items. When it came time to stretch, the coaches motivated the girls by telling them how good it would make them feel before their run.
Finally, it was time for them to run a few laps in the parking lot. Orange cones were set up as guides and the little ladies marched out for their practice. The coaches were on the sidelines with stickers for each of the girls to collect with every lap they finished.
The sticker line sometimes got a bit congested, but the girls kept on running.
Afterwards, the girls closely resembled Dalmatians due to the large number of stickers on their arms. They chatted and giggled with excitement as they compared stickers with one another and finally headed inside to collect their belongings and have a much deserved snack.
While chatting with Laurie and the coaches, I discovered just how special this program really is. One coach shared a story about one girl telling her how great she felt being involved in this program. She said the young girl told her that running made her feel very good, which is what every coach in this organization loves to hear. She also said how the girls really felt comfortable with one another in this program. It was a chance for them to just be themselves and have fun, which is the entire purpose of this organization.
Laurie is a terrific woman. Her dedication to this non-profit organization is very inspiring and she really can’t grasp how much of an impact she’s making on the lives of not only these young girls, but also the teachers and coaches as well. As a fellow runner and stay at home mom, she understands the rigorous demands of being a role model and motivator for children. She is truly the backbone of this organization and deserves the utmost recognition.
Over the next few weeks, I will be working on putting together a few press release templates for her to have for future use. She informed me that at their last event they had no media coverage, so I am going to make sure that this spring’s 5K is recognized. I will also be aiding her on getting local businesses to donate snacks for the girls. Due to a conflict in scheduling, their previous Snack Coordinator is no longer available to help, so I am stepping in for her. One of the best parts of being in public relations is that we are never limited to one job.
For more pictures of this practice, please visit my Flickr account.