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New Study Demonstrates that Girls on the Run Transforms Young Girls' Lives


Charlotte, Aug. 15, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Girls on the Run International Leadership is available for media interviews

Girls who participate in Girls on the Run have fun, make new friends, and learn critical skills to help them successfully navigate life experiences.


CHARLOTTE – Girls on the Run is the only national physical activity-based positive youth development program for girls with compelling evidence of program impact.  A recent independent study, conducted by Maureen R. Weiss, Ph.D., a leading expert on youth development, showed that the program is highly effective at driving transformative and lasting change in the lives of third to fifth grade girls. 

The study uncovered that:

  1. Girls on the Run participants were significantly more likely than girls in physical education or organized sports programs to learn and use life skills including managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others or making intentional decisions.
  2. 97% of girls said they learned critical life skills at Girls on the Run that they are using at home, at school and with their friends
  3. Girls who began the program with below-average scores significantly improved from pre- to post-season on all outcomes—competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring.  This shows that girls who need the program the most experience the greatest benefit.
  4. Girls who were the least active before Girls on the Run increased their physical activity level by 40% from pre- to post-season and maintained this increased level beyond the program's end.

"Girls on the Run participants scored higher in managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others, and making intentional decisions than participants in organized sport or physical education", confirms Weiss.  "Being able to generalize skills learned in the program to other situations such as at school or at home is a distinguishing feature of Girls on the Run compared to traditional youth sports and school PE, and suggests that the intentional life skills curriculum and coach-training program can serve as exemplars for other youth programs."

Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development (PYD) program that is designed to enhance girls' social, psychological and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences. The program's intentional curriculum places an emphasis on developing competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution in young girls through lessons that incorporate running and other physical activities. The life skills curriculum is delivered by trained and caring coaches in a safe and inclusive environment.  It is the combination of the research-based curriculum, trained coaches and a commitment to serve all girls that sets Girls on the Run apart from other after-school programs.

"We receive countless letters from girls, parents and coaches about how our program changes lives," said Elizabeth Kunz, chief executive officer of Girls on the Run. "The study findings reinforce these personal stories and validate our commitment to give every girl a chance to step up to the starting line of life with joy, health and confidence." 

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About Girls on the Run

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Girls on the Run is a nonprofit organization with local Councils in all 50 states. Founded in 1996 with 13 girls, Girls on the Run has now served more than 1.4 million girls. Over the course of the ten-week program, girls in 3rd-8th grade develop essential skills to help them navigate their worlds and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness. The program culminates with girls positively impacting their communities through a service project and being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5K event.  With the largest 5K series by number of events in the world, Girls on the Run hosts more than 330 5Ks per year.

Girls on the Run was recently included as a top research-based program in a Social-Emotional Learning Guide developed by researchers at Harvard University and has been recognized by the National Afterschool Association (NAA) as one of the most influential after-school programs.


About the study

Maureen R. Weiss, Ph.D., a leading scholar in positive youth development research, led the independent, longitudinal study. Dr. Weiss is a professor in the School of Kinesiology and an adjunct professor in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. She has published more than 150 refereed journal articles and book chapters and has edited or co-edited four books on youth sport and physical activity. She received the 2014 President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Science Board's Honor Award and the Distinguished Scholar Award from the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity in 2016.


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Theresa Miller
Girls On the Run International

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