FLORHAM PARK, NJ — A handful of West Orange students were recently among the Essex, Morris and Union County girls in grades 3 through 8 to participate in the fall Girls on the Run (GOTR) New Jersey East program, which encourages young girls to recognize their individual strengths and celebrate connections with others. The season culminated in the Florham Park PBA Turkey Trot 5K, a celebratory, non-competitive event that provided the girls with a sense of accomplishment and instilled the value of goal setting at a young age. 

GOTR inspires young girls to recognize their power and potential. Trained volunteer coaches lead small teams through a research-based curriculum that includes dynamic discussions, activities and running games.

Over the course of the 10-week program, girls develop essential skills to help them navigate their worlds and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness. The program culminates with girls positively impacting their communities through a service project and being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5K run.

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“The 5K is pure magic in every sense of the word,” said GOTR executive director Sydney Davis. “When communities come together to celebrate and encourage girls to cross the finish line and achieve something they’re not sure is possible, we are renewing our faith in each other and our future.

“The positive energy of the coaches, girls and families is so strong that anyone who is a part of the day leaves feeling more powerful, hopeful and energized. We are so inspired by our generous sponsors, the hard work of the Florham Park PBA and the dedication of our incredible coaches. Girls - you rocked it!”

When girls cross the finish line and complete the GOTR season, this accomplishment opens the door to working toward and achieving other life goals.

Morris County Program Director Kim Hammond echoed Davis’ sentiments.

“I am still so overwhelmed by all of the star power energy from the 5K,” she said. “What an incredible feeling watching the girls beam with pride as I presented their medals at the finish line. All of their hard work and self-growth throughout the season was celebrated today.”

GOTR NJ East is an independent council of GOTR International, which has a network of more than 225 councils across 50 states and the District of Columbia.

GOTR NJ East was established in 2000 to serve Essex and Union counties and has since grown to include Morris, Mercer and Burlington Counties. Its mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.

Spring season registration opens on Feb. 15. Learn more about coaching opportunities and spring season registration at www.girlsontherunnj.org.