Girls on the Run International, the parent organization of 170 individual councils located in all 50 states and Canada, awarded Girls on the Run of Snohomish County a Pacesetter Award for its work in inclusion, diversity, equity and access to support girls of color. The Pacesetter Awards highlight the enterprising and innovative initiatives councils have developed to help serve their communities and power the mission and vision of Girls on the Run.
Since the council was founded in 2015, Girls on the Run of Snohomish County has recognized the importance of serving and reflecting its diverse population. In 2019 and under the leadership of long-time board member Chelsea Berman, the council developed an impactful strategic plan to ground its work in equity and inclusion. In 2020, the council took an additional key step and made a public statement grounded in its core values as an anti-racist organization in support of immigration rights.
The organization continues to demonstrate this value and commitment. The board and staff participate in and host community trainings and discussions on identity and racism. The council also provides training and development opportunities for its staff and coaches. Girls on the Run Snohomish County’s board is progressively more diverse in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and lived experiences, allowing the council to reduce barriers to serving all girls well.
“Our work in inclusion, diversity, equity and access is truly at the heart of what we do,” said Megan Wolfe, executive director of Girls on the Run Snohomish County. “We not only want to empower girls in our region, but we also want to share our beliefs and let our community know how we provide a safe place of belonging for all girls.”
At the awards ceremony, April Massett, vice president of council development at Girls on the Run International, said, “At Girls on the Run, we value the dignity and humanity of all people. The team at Girls on the Run Snohomish County exemplifies our values in every way. They are setting an example for our entire organization, and we are grateful for their commitment to help all girls activate their limitless potential. What a way to shine!”
Since its inception in 1996, Girls on the Run International has supported the physical and emotional health of more than 2 million girls across North America. Girls on the Run Snohomish County has served 3,207 girls over the past seven years in the third most populous county in the state of Washington.
There is a vital need for this organization. According to an independent youth development study, girls’ self-confidence begins to drop by age nine, physical activity levels start to decline by age 10, and half of 10- to 13-year-old girls experience bullying and exclusion. Girls on the Run counters these developmental hurdles through its evidence-based, life skills curriculum that is delivered by trained coaches.
The age-specific programming for third- to eighth-grade girls culminates in a 5K at the end of the season. Before the pandemic, more than 600,000 participants and spectators attended one of the more than 330 5K events each year making the Girls on the Run 5K the largest 5K series by number of events in the world.
Pictured: Elizabeth Kunz, Chief Executive Officer, Girls on the Run International; Megan Wolfe, Executive Director of Girls on the Run Snohomish County; Audrey Johnson, Communications Director; Leah Bernstein, Program Director; Kathleen Quirk, Board Chair.