Boys … homework … family. These are just some of the answers local middle school girls gave us when asked what stresses them out. Being an adult is hard but let’s not forget: sixth, seventh and eighth grade can be brutal.
“There is so much research based on the middle school slump for particularly young females,” says Megan Grochowiak, Girls on the Run site coordinator for Horace Greeley Elementary. “It’s just a very difficult time. It comes to the point where it’s not cool to be smart, taking a back-burner, not speaking up for yourself, and not contributing they same way they used to.”
Girls on the Run and Girls on Track (the program for middle school participants) aim to help with that transition by providing girls a safe place to explore their feelings and talk through some of the challenges that come with being a middle school girl. The group meets after school and the girls start with either role playing or discussing everything from curfews to healthy body image. The girls spend the second half training for a 5k Girls on the Run race in the spring.
When Anastacia Lopez started to see her grades slip, a teacher suggested she join the group.
“I got a few C’s and I’m usually like an A and B girls so I was going through some ups and downs,” she says. “Girls on Track got me in the right direction that I was aiming to go.”
For Sandra Adu-Gyamfi, the group helped to highlight her strengths. “I learned that I can be funny … and that I can make people feel better,” she says. “I learned that you have to believe in yourself and have confidence in whatever you do.”
Grochowiak says pairing the discussions with heart-pumping exercise makes for the perfect combination.
“They can kind of de-stress because you know, endorphins are good for us,” she says. “They help us deal with things like stress and, you know, confusion and just frustration and sadness because a lot of these girls have a lot going on in their lives.”
To learn more about Girls on the Run, please visit http://www.girlsontherun.org/.