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Girls on the Run Learn It’s About HEART
Monday, November 14, 2022


River Rappa Lambert had a 5K run in front of her, but that didn’t stop the 10-year-old from running a few laps as she waited for the run to start.

“I like to run, and I really like seeing other girls that run,” said the Alturas Elementary School student. “I like the smiling faces as they run.”

Lambert is one of 52 elementary school girls who took part in Girls on the Run of the Wood River Valley this fall. The girls participated in 10 afterschool sessions in which they played games and took part in discussions meant to bolster self-esteem and teach positive character traits.

They celebrated Saturday morning by running a 5K with family and friends on the equestrian paths snaking through Swiftsure Ranch south of Bellevue.

“This is a fun event for the girls that have gone through our program to celebrate their efforts this season and to show them that through hard work and dedication that they can reach their goals,” said Teressa Johnson, the executive director of girls on the Run Southern Idaho. “They did a practice 5K two weeks ago so they know they can do it.”

Girls on the Run was founded in 1996, using running as a springboard to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident, knowing they have limitless potential. It’s open to third- to fifth-grade girls with groups meeting at Sun Valley Community School and Hailey and Alturas elementary schools.

“We use volunteer coaches and we do positive talks about things like empathy and what makes their star power shine.,” said Johnson. “One mother shared her daughter had been so quiet in the classroom—when she started with us her head was always down. She’s blossomed in the last several weeks and is now raising her hand in class. Girls on the Run is intentionally designed to help girls feel good about themselves and support others. It’s magic.”

On Saturday, girls bellied up to a Happy Hair Station before the 5K run, adorning their faces with glitter dots and other adornments. Some wore tutus; others, capes that said “Running is my super power.” Each girl wore No. 1 on her race bib as she toed the starting line next to messages of exhortation that covered one of the horse barns.

Some ran with their fathers, their capes flowing behind them. Others ran as a group or with a friend, chattering as they made their way around the 5K loop under cottonwood trees that had scarcely dropped a leaf, even though it was mid-November.

“Looking good!” shouted friends and family along the way as some rang cowbells and waved “Go, Girls!” paddles.

“It’s a really good program with good teachers who make it fun with games like elbow tag,” said Evelyn Frint, a 10-year-old from Alturas Elementary.

“It’s a great program for them to build strength, strong relationships,” added her father Jeremy Frint.

Lambert and her family moved to the Wood River Valley from West Virginia a year ago after having fallen in love with the area’s wildlife and its strong sense of community. Lambert immediately signed up for Girls on the Run as a way to meet other youngsters and her mother Amy Rappa volunteered as a coach.

“I’m a very amateur runner but it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to run with my daughter,” said Lambert’s father Peter Lambert.

“I was shy around other girls but I’ve always loved running—we used to have a big yard in West Virginia and I’d run all around,” said River Rappa Lambert. So, I thought it would be cool to do the program when I heard about it.”

Lambert said she liked the focus on positive thinking. One of her favorite exercises, she said, was learning how to be intentional in choosing friends using a HEART acronym.

“They told us to think of a heart,” she said. “ ‘H’ stands for friends who help you, ‘e’ for friends who encourage you, ‘a’ for friends who accept you, ‘r’ for friends who really, really respect you and ‘t’ for friends who treat you with kindness.”

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