Girls on the Run 5K empowers Minnesota youth to reach potential

People high five a girl who is running
A participant of Girls on the Run gets high-fives from supporters on Sunday.
Courtesy of Rebecca Slater

Even though she’s only 10-years-old, Vanessa Bryan is getting used to running a 5K. She was among the estimated 1,200 girls who crossed the finish line of the Twin Cities Girls on the Run Fall 5K at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds Sunday.

It marked the completion of a 10-week after school running program focused on positive physical activity and life skill development.

“It felt very good to be accomplished when you finish it,” said Bryan, who wrapped up her third 5K.

Girls on the Run Minnesota is a nonprofit with the goal to help girls from third to eighth grade recognize their potential and rise above limiting gender expectations.

Kathleen Cannon, the executive director of Girls on the Run Minnesota, said the program teaches girls about their unlimited potential and the importance of positive physical activity.

“I think the impact of today is something I hope to see far beyond today, where they take it into adolescence and beyond and realizing, ‘I’m part of a community. What is my place in the world, what does it mean to belong,’” Cannon said.

Schools and community centers can organize teams of girls to participate in the program. Volunteer coaches, often teachers or parents, spend two days a week after school training the girls through programs provided by Girls on the Run.

At the end of the season, the team completes a 5K together.

Tamarra Miller was one of many spectators cheering for the girls along the course. She came to support for her niece, Alayiah. She said the program has made a positive impact on her niece.

“I love community coming together, this is great,” Miller said. “Everybody seems happy, I love it.”

Girls from 70 different schools and community centers participated in the program. Runners also invited running buddies, parents, siblings and even teachers to run the race alongside them. Many runners wore face paint and bright pink. In total 4,000 people attended the event.

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