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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- At 14 schools in Louisville an after school program aims at teaching young girls life lessons through running. These "Girls on the Run" are taking on their doubts and fears, one lap at a time.
"When I'm at school I feel like I have to be what the other girls want me to be but when I'm here I can just be myself and know they like me for who I am," says Field Elementary 4th grader, MeMe Steinboch.
Each week the 3rd, 4th and 5th students gather for a little girl talk on the move.
"We not only train them to complete a 5K run which is a lot of physical exercise for these girls but we're also integrating a lot of social and emotional life skills for them, explains Girls on the Run coordinator," Leslie Danehy.
First it's an after school snack and conversation.
Then, after a short warm up the conversation continues around the field.
"We talk about how to handle bullying, how to choose your friends," says student, Joetiona Ware.
"There's a whole spirit, mind, body philosophy and when you're thinking good you're feeling good and you also need to be feeling good physically and emotional," explains Danehy.
Charlotte Bariteau is well spoken and confident but tells us a year ago she was having a hard time at school.
"When I started 3rd grade I was bullied and Girls on the Run really helped with that," she says.
"I've had some parents tell me that their child was suffering from anxiety and depression and girls on the run was the one thing that brought them out of it," says Danehy.
In three weeks, the girls will run a 5K. Each student will be accompanied by a parent chaperone encouraging them along the way.
"Across the board this curriculum is proven to increase girls' self-esteem, body image and physical activity level," says Danehy.