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Program gets girls running
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Girls on the Run Forsyth-Hall-Cherokee

What: 5K training program for girls

Where: Friendship Elementary, Oakwood Elementary, World Language Academy

When: runs Monday through April 30

How much: $145

More info: volunteers and others interested can e-mail

Girls on the Run, a program that has thrived in Forsyth County, is now available for energetic girls in Hall and Cherokee counties.

The program, officially called Girls on the Run Forsyth-Hall-Cherokee, is a nonprofit program for girls in third to eighth grade that instills self confidence and running skills all at the same time.

"Girls on the Run is a national organization and this particular council was started in 2005. We started our focus in Forsyth County at that time," said Cathie Brugnoli, executive director of Girls on the Run Forsyth-Hall-Cherokee.

"We are saturated in Forsyth County and the demand has just been moving toward Hall County. We've been embraced by three schools there right now."

The girls will meet for training at Friendship Elementary, Oakwood Elementary and the World Language Academy. This is the second time the program will be offered at the World Language Academy.

"Girls on the Run does have a fee, but we don't turn anyone away for financial reasons," Brugnoli said. "Our fee is $145 for 12 weeks, but it works on a sliding scale basis based on income. So no girl is ever turned away for financial reasons."

The mission of the organization is to "prepare girls for a lifetime of self respect and healthy living," according to the website.

"Girls on the Run is basically a character building program," she said. "We don't consider ourselves a running program, but we use running as an avenue to bring the message home to young girls. We want the girls to value themselves for who they are on the inside rather than what they look like, what kind of clothes they wear and who they hang around with.

"In return, we have children that are less likely to turn to drugs and alcohol. We have children that are looking to do better in school, have higher test grades and are inspired to be who they are meant to be."

Brugnoli became involved with Girls on the Run-Atlanta and when her daughters were old enough to participate, she decided to begin a chapter in Forsyth County.

The program is 12 weeks long, meeting two times a week after school. At the end of the 12 weeks is the Girls on the Run/Jay Cullen Share the Road 5K event, where the participants run a 5K with spectators cheering them on.

"The running portion of the program is noncompetitive," Brugnoli said. "When we train them to run they can run, skip, jump, hop; as long as they are moving forward. At the end of the 5K, it is so emotional to see the kids finish and do something they never thought they would do."