Girls in seventh and eighth grade who are enrolled in the Project Launch Newton afterschool program at the Halsted Middle School are having a ball participating in the popular Girls on the Run program.  The running program is offered three days a week as part of the Project Launch Newton afterschool program, which is operated by Project Self-Sufficiency in conjunction with the Newton School District and Girls on the Run NJN.  To participate in this program, students must be enrolled in the Project Launch Newton after school program at the Halsted Middle School.

“The Girls on the Run program is more than just physical activity.  The program also teaches life skills and culminates with the students being emotionally and physically prepared to complete a celebratory 5K running event,” commented Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.  “Girls gain confidence and an appreciation of the importance of health and fitness.  We are delighted to be adding this exciting component to the Project Launch Newton after school program at the Halsted Middle School.”

Deb Siipola, Executive Director of Girls on the Run New Jersey North, explains that the program celebrates girls in a fun way, “It’s unlike any other program.  It gives girls a safe place to share things and celebrate their uniqueness.  We creatively integrate running into the program so girls are having so much fun that they don’t even realize that they are working out.  We are so excited to be partnering with Project Self-Sufficiency.”

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In addition to running games, the curriculum will encompass discussions about age-appropriate issues such as social media, technology and bullying.  While the girls are having fun participating in the 8-week program, they are training for a 5K.

The 5k will be a celebratory event for the 200 girls and their families participating in the program.  The Girls on the Run program provides a supportive atmosphere where girls have the opportunity to think critically, make informed decisions and become healthy and engaged individuals who positively contribute to society as a whole. By working towards and attaining a goal at such a young age, the girls learn that they can achieve ANYTHING!  Girls on the Run New Jersey North serves girls in Sussex, Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties, and is one of over 200 chapters across the United States. 

Project Launch Newton is an enrichment program offered to children in grades 4 – 8 who reside in the Newton School District.  Children participate in academic enrichment, creative pursuits, fitness and physical education, health and nutrition activities designed around a Science, Integration of Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) theme.  More information about the Project Launch Newton program can be found at