When Cathie Brugnoli talks about Girls on the Run, the term “run” almost never comes up.
The nonprofit organization is all about empowering young girls, said Brugnoli, who is the executive director of Girls on the Run Forsyth-Hall-Cherokee.
“Girls on the Run’s mission is to educate and prepare girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living,” she said. “The program uses the avenue of non-competitive running to help bring home our message to young girls.
“They can run, skip, hop, jump or walk, as long as they’re moving forward.”
Registration has opened for the group’s fall season, which Brugnoli said will fill up quickly.
The 12-week program, which starts in Forsyth County the last week in August, brings together girls in third through fifth grades twice a week for a 75-minute program.
Nearly every elementary school in the county has a program that meets after school, Brugnoli said.
Each meeting teaches a different lesson, focusing on self, friends, family and community.
Brugnoli said girls who have been through the program can return, since the material is always updated.
“This curriculum is very new,” she said. “It focuses on positive thinking and ways to change our perception of things going on around us, which is critical for girls to get at a young age.”
The season culminates with a 5K, which will be Nov. 12 at Lambert High School.
The program costs $150 for the season, but Brugnoli said no one is turned away for financial reasons.
Families can pay based on a sliding scale of income. Scholarships are also available.
Aside from registration, Brugnoli said the organization is also looking for volunteer coaches.
“Our coaches don’t need to be runners,” she said. “They can be anybody that wants to empower young girls and change the way they see themselves.”
The organization has grown nearly tenfold since its inception five years ago. Some 350 girls are expected to participate this season.
“We’re really excited about that,” Brugnoli said. “We feel like we’re reaching a lot of the community.”