by Dee Delacher

tween-girls-self-esteemHey, Girl Moguls!  Have you ever done something that you really didn’t want to do just because your friends wanted you to?  I sure have.  In fact, I want to share a story with you from when I was eight years old:

My face was getting hotter by the minute.  My friends were totally staring at me.  They expected me to lie so that the girls’ team would win the math competition in class.

My teacher was staring at me too.  He was waiting for me to report my score.

And inside I was battling between doing what was right or making my friends happy.  I opened my mouth and out came a score of 85%, a score slightly higher than the 80% that was screaming back at me.

As my teacher declared the girls the winner, I was mobbed with high-fives and hugs.  Meanwhile, the boys, particularly the one who had corrected my paper, shouted out in opposition.

“She cheated!” I heard them accuse.

My face turned a crimson shade of red as I slid further down in my seat.  My one second of glory in the eyes of my friends had turned into disappointment in the eyes of my teacher, and would soon turn into a harsh punishment from my parents.

I was only in third grade and I was already choosing paths that were going against what my parents had taught me.  I questioned who my friends really were and why lying made them like me more.  How could I stay true to myself and still surround myself with the friends that I so wanted?

That is where this cool program called Girls on the Run comes in.  It is a program for girls eight to thirteen and it was started by a woman who struggled with her changing body and these same dilemmas that she calls “Girl-Box” issues.

We have all dealt with them; whether it be starving ourselves to be “skinny” in the eyes of our peers, trying something because our friends want us to, or even telling a little white lie to our parents in order to do something we know is wrong.  Anytime we do things that we don’t want to do in order to please others, we are stepping into the “Girl-Box” and we lose a piece of our own identity.

Molly Barker, the founder of Girls on the Run, was losing pieces of herself and started running in order to deal with the stresses of being a teenage girl.  Running made her feel beautiful and powerful and allowed her to shatter that box that surrounded her.  She decided that she was going to start a program that would help create a world where girls would never have to climb out of the box and could live peacefully and happily simply being themselves.

Wouldn’t it be fun to get together with a bunch of girls who are all looking for a way out of the box, or better yet, a way to stay out of the box completely?  Girls on the Run is that place.

It is a 12-week program that combines training for a 5k run with self-esteem building lessons.  Each week you will meet with your volunteer coaches and team and will complete various activities that correspond to weekly topics and goals.  There is even a question and answer time where you can get some answers and tips that could help you with problems you are having in school or at home.

Most girls finish the program with the tools to help them stay out of the box by giving them a stronger sense of identity, a greater acceptance of themselves, a healthier body image, and a greater understanding of what it means to be part of a team.

Girls on the Run programs start up in the spring and you can find one in most states.  Just go to to see if there is a program near you.  If not, ask your parent, teacher, or mentor to start one up at your school.  So go find a program and lace-up, so you, too, can stay out of the box!


Dee Delacher is a writer and mother who is passionate about Girls on the Run – and igniting some girl power.