April 01, 2016
In 2010, Cheryl Stumpf combined her passion for running and her commitment to empowering young women to form a small but enthusiastic council of Girls on the Run (GOTR). A national nonprofit organization, GOTR partners with school districts to provide after-school youth development programs, integrating physical activity, to girls ages 8 to 14.
“Girls are hungry for something like this,” Stumpf says. “They want to feel valued and connected, and Girls on the Run helps them realize their greatest potential by stepping outside the ‘girl box.’”
From its modest beginning at a single elementary school in western Snyder County, the Greater Susquehanna Valley Girls on the Run has grown to include 25 school districts in six counties, as well as several middle school programs called Girls on Track.
Stumpf, a counselor and outreach coordinator in Susquehanna’s Counseling Center, even brought the program to Susquehanna. Working with students from across campus, she’s seen a GOTR Club formed by Susquehanna students, and internships have been established for students interested in working for the regional council.
Seema Tailor ’18, a communication arts major from Roanoke, Va., is president of the GOTR Club. A member of the women’s cross country and track & field teams, she has been coaching a local team of girls since her first year on campus. She says it’s a perfect match for someone like her who loves to run and work with kids.
Senior Taylor Secor, a neuroscience major from Stroudsburg, Pa., agrees. As someone who participated in GOTR in elementary school and middle school, she jumped at the chance to get involved with the organization. “When I heard it was here, I was so surprised,” Secor says. The bonds girls make and the feeling of accomplishment they earn from participating in a GOTR program is amazing,” she adds. “It builds their self-confidence a lot. I know it did mine.”
Secor and Tailor are among about a dozen students who serve as coaches for local teams. Even more participate through internships and volunteer for the 5K races that mark the culmination of the program each semester. In all, about 100 Susquehanna students are involved in the program to one extent or another during the fall and spring seasons.
Ali Stevens, program director of the Greater Susquehanna Valley council, says she could not run the program without them. “I’m so impressed with SU college students,” Stevens says. The student coaches are particularly impressive, she adds. “They are so inspirational to me, to take time out of their busy schedules to work with these girls.”