August 6, 2018

This fall, the Girls on the Run after-school program will help get girls up, outside and working together.

The Carroll Recreation Center will host the Girls on the Run after-school program for girls in third through fifth grades from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday beginning Sept. 4. The program will end with a 5K race at Water Works Park in Des Moines at 2 p.m. Nov. 11. Girls on the Run is offered through the YMCA of Greater Des Moines and encompasses games, exercise, confidence skill-building and more.

The program costs $150, but if girls qualify for free or reduced-price meals during the school year, assistance is provided. Information about financial assistance and online registration are available at

Carroll resident Sara Halbur said she discovered the program a few years ago on Facebook and thought it seemed like a great way to get girls together while being active — and this year, she reached out to Christa Vander Leest, the program director of Girls on the Run of Central Iowa, to try to bring the program to Carroll.

“When I looked into the program, I was personally interested in the program for when my daughter is of age,” Halbur said. “This is a program where they are individually able to build self-confidence through activity.”

During their time at the Rec Center, the girls will be split into groups with different coaches where they will play games together, run laps, learn different skills that boost confidence, participate in positive self-talk, learn about standing up for themselves and more.

There are many important benefits to a program that helps girls learn positive thinking skills and how to be active, Vander Leest said.

“If they are not already facing challenges, there will be times in their lives (when they do),” she said. “We want to make sure they are equipped with the tools to handle issues that they will face during their adolescent years.”

Dr. Maureen Weiss, a professor of the psychology of physical of activity at the University of Minnesota, conducted an independent study on the impacts Girls on the Run has on young girls. Weiss learned that girls’ self-confidence begins to drop by age 9, and 50 percent of girls ages 10 to 13 experience bullying, such as name-calling and being excluded.

Halbur said the program will be a great way to bring the girls together while giving them something they can work for.

It’s a great way for them to come and be active, and this is a sport they can do on their own,” she said. “They’re doing it for themselves. They are building their self-confidence.”