LIVINGSTON, NJ - 'Girls on the Run' (GOTR) of New Jersey East is currently seeking volunteers to empower girls through running for the spring 2019 season at various chapters, including Livingston, West Orange, the Caldwells, Roseland, Fairfield and other locations throughout the area.

GOTR is a physical activity-based, positive youth development program that inspires girls in 3rd through 8th grade to be joyful, healthy and confident. The 10-week program incorporates running to teach critical life skills, encourage personal development, foster team building and motivate community service.

Volunteer coaches, who must be 16 years or older, utilize a curriculum to engage teams of girls in fun, interactive lessons. GOTR is looking for enthusiastic, dedicated and positive men and women who are committed to empowering girls with valuable life lessons to coach this spring’s teams. 

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“Running has been a large part of my personal life for the last 40-plus years, and it feels great to give back to both the sport and young girls in our area,” said Roseland resident and Livingston GOTR coach Randi Cohen. “I hope that through their participation in GOTR that they, too, can develop a healthy lifestyle for their future along with important tools of empowerment along the way. It has been so much fun to learn along with the girls. Their energy, enthusiasm and excitement brightened every day that I spent with them.

“It's amazing to work on a large goal, step by step, and to witness their feelings of accomplishment when they cross the finish line of a 5K. It is something they never thought they would accomplish and teaches them that with a goal and hard work, they can do anything. That is an extremely important life lesson and achievable thanks to GOTR.”

All coaches are required to participate in one half-day training session, which are currently scheduled for Saturday, March 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, March 23 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Tuesday, March 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Starting in early April, teams will meet twice a week for 75 minutes, with sessions scheduled after school and/or on weekends. The program culminates with all teams participating in a 5K event to be held in Florham Park on Saturday, June 8.

“This spring will mark my third season coaching GOTR,” said West Orange coach Alyssa Wicks. “The best part about coaching is watching girls who were once unsure of themselves or their abilities grow into self-confident, strong and empowered young women."

Wicks added, “The practices are centered around lessons on conflict resolution, dealing with peer pressure and bullying, positive self-talk and giving back to the community. An added bonus for me was that these lessons are also invaluable tools that I use in my daily life. Coaching a GOTR team is so rewarding because I get to have fun while making a difference in the lives of the girls I coach.”

Newark coach Jill Welch added that she believes she experienced more personal and professional growth over the 10 weeks than the girls on her team did. She said the time spent with these young women “sparked female empowerment” as the coaches and participants bonded over the experience.

“GOTR can inspire girls of any ethnicity, fitness level, economic status, and developmental level to be their best and strive to achieve their goals,” she said.  

GOTR New Jersey East currently serves more than 1,000 girls per season at 70 sites across Essex, Morris, Union, Burlington and Mercer Counties. Volunteers provide critical leadership and the non-profit organization is currently seeking coaches to facilitate the program with teams of 12 to 18 girls between third and fifth grade and attend practices twice a week.  

There is no running experience required to serve as a coach, but one coach at each site must be certified in CPR. Volunteers must complete a background check and attend one of the local training sessions before the start of the spring season.

Information regarding about coaching and the upcoming spring season, as well as a list of all of site locations can be found by visiting girlsontherunnj.org or by contacting Anne Klein, GOTR NJ East Program Director, with any questions.