Run For It

Non-profit program Girls On The Run Rhode Island empowers young girls through running


One afterschool program that is changing the lives of youth across the state is Girls On The Run Rhode Island (GOTRRI), a non-profit dedicated to the empowerment of young girls through running. Unlike sports-based methodology, GOTRRI is a program focused more on the journey than the destination.

“It’s more about the goal you set and how you feel about the progress that you’re making,” Executive Director Jacklyn O’Hara says.

Serving girls in third through fifth grades, the Girls On The Run afterschool program runs during the fall and spring seasons, offering a series of connected sessions based on teamwork, self-expression, and the power each student holds to make an impact on their community. “Each session builds off of the last,” O’Hara says. “They are at the core of what girls are experiencing at this age: peer pressure, self-confidence building, and setting goals.”

Heart and Sole is the non-profit’s middle school program where the connection between physical and mental wellness is further explored. “The life-skills portion crosses over to the running component when the girls who once said ‘I can’t’ are running miles by the end of a season.”

“We are first and foremost a young girl’s empowerment program,” O’Hara explains. “Running is used as one of the mediums to build confidence.” In addition to physical activity, GOTRRI’s program incorporates lessons focused on self-worth and relationship building to help developing youth become the leaders of their own lives.

With nearly a third of their students funded through scholarships, donations, and volunteers, GOTRRI prides itself on being an all-inclusive program throughout the state of Rhode Island.

Their SoleMates is one of the biggest reasons why GOTRRI is able to fund such a generous percentage of their participants. The program gives the opportunity for a team of individuals – whether you can run a marathon or walk a mile – to dedicate their training to funding a student that may not have the opportunity to participate in the program.

“While the program is for young girls, the people that are making it happen are the entire community,” O’Hara says. “We’re running with a purpose.”