USD 475

According to an article in the New York Times, young girls’ confidence plunges in a serious way around the time they hit puberty — and they tend to come out much worse on the other end than boys.

Several schools within Unified School District 475 — Seitz Elementary School, Spring Valley Elementary School, and Junction City Middle School — and schools in Manhattan and Wamego have adopted a running club to help combat this problem.

It’s called Girls on the Run and it has been in existence for about three years now.

Seitz Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Danae Jaslow McClure helps out as a coach with the club at her school, which has about 14 participants in grades third through fifth.

She said it does make a difference in how participants see themselves.

“I’ve noticed the girls in GOTR seem to be more confident in who they are inside and out,” she said. “We have a wide variety of girls on our team of all abilities and backgrounds and they all seem accepted, confident, and supportive of each other.”

McClure believes the club helps in part because it offers young women a place where they can safely discover who they are and learn skills she feels will help them succeed in all aspects of their lives — not simply physical fitness, though staying in shape does play a part for McClure.

Her interest in exercise is what drove her to become involved in the club in the first place.

“Fitness is a huge part of my life and I wanted to encourage the skills needed to live a healthy lifestyle in our young female students,” she said.

The group meets Tuesdays and Thursdays after school from 3:30 until 4:30 p.m.

Today, a 5K will take place in Manhattan at Memorial Stadium and throughout the campus of Kansas State University where McClure’s students, among others, will run with “running buddies,” meaning girls 15 years old or older.

Three middle schools and 10 elementaries will be part of the event. The race is a reward for the students for completing their season.

The club’s last practice of the semester takes place Tuesday. The group meets in both fall and spring.

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