What is Girls on the Run?

Girls on the Run of Chester County is a life-changing, youth development program for girls in the 3rd through 8th grade. Our mission is "to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running." Girls on the Run combines training for a 5K (3.1 miles) running race with healthy living education. Our programs instill self-esteem and strong values through health education, life skills development, mentoring relationships, and physical training, all of which are accomplished through an active collaboration with girls and their parents, schools, volunteers, staff, and the community.

During each season the girls participate in lessons/practices twice per week, usually after school.  These sessions incorporate group discussions, activities, games, and running throughout the 90 minute session.  Each team of girls is led by trained volunteer coaches.  

Girls on the Run of Chester County is an affiliate council of Girls on the Run International that is operated by the YMCA of Greater Brandywine. Girls on the Run is offered in over 173 cities across North America.  Hundreds of Thousands of girls' and women's lives have been changed by this program.


What are the goals of Girls on the Run?

We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.

Girls on the Run honors its core values. We strive to:

1. Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making.
2. Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness.
3. Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions.
4. Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health.
5. Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent.
6. Stand up for ourselves and others.

How can I get involved with Girls on the Run?

Girls on The Run is run almost exclusively by volunteers. We are always in need of interested parties to volunteer as coaches, volunteer on race day, and to volunteer on committees. If you have any interest please contact Sue Holinsky.

How old does my daughter have to be to participate in Girls on the Run?

Girls that are interested in participating must be in 3rd, 4th or 5th grade. Girls that are interested in Heart & Sole must be in 6th, 7th, or 8th.

Where does the program take place?

We offer the program to all schools in Chester County.  Operating a program at a specific school is dependent on the ability to secure volunteer coaches, the approval of the school to allow us to host the program and to garner enough interest in the student population to meet minimum participation needs.  Most programs take place after school on site (some programs at community sites may have different hours - evenings, weekends).

How do I register?

Registration can be done in person at any YMCA of Greater Brandywine branch or online on our registration page.

What if I need financial assistance?

Girls on the Run is for EVERY girl and we do not want cost to be a barrier for your girl to participate.  If you need financial assistance, please contact us to work through that simple process.

  • If you already have an Income Based Membership at any of our YMCA of Greater Brandywine branches, those same discounts apply.
  • If your child receives Free and Reduced lunch at school, you can show proof of that during registration in person at a branch to apply that discount.
  • We do offer a sibling discount as well as a staff discount for YMCA of Greater Brandywine staff.

What are the lessons like?

The Girls on the Run lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development.  Participants explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at this age.  They also develop important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences. We start with helping the girls get a better understanding of who they are and what’s important to them.  Then, we look at the importance of team work and healthy relationships.  And, finally, the girls explore how they can positively connect with and shape the world.Physical activity is woven into our program to inspire an appreciation of fitness and to build habits that lead to a lifetime of health.  At the end of each three month session, the girls participate in a Girls on the Run 5k event.  This celebratory, non-competitive event is the culminating experience of the curriculum.  

Why is there a cost to participate?

GOTR is not your typical sports program.  Although, we’ve had questions about the expense, we’ve never had anyone whose daughter has participated say that they didn’t get their money’s worth.  Here’s a glimpse into some of the hard cost items that determine the price of the program. 

  • Curriculum
  • Coach Training & CPR Certification
  • GOTR International Fees
  • Program Scholarships
  • Program Supplies
  • Race Fees
  • Facility Fees
  • 5K Medals
  • Race T-shirt
  • Program T-shirt
  • Water Bottle
  • Practice 5K event supplies
  • Volunteer & Coach Appreciation
  • End of Season Team celebrations

What is the minimum / maximum number of girls per team?

The minimum participation for a team to run is 8 girls. The lesson and activities that are included have the greatest efficacy if they are carried out in larger numbers. GOTR International recommends a minimum of 8 girls to get the most out of the experience. We are required to provide a ratio of 2 coaches for every 15 girls at every practice. We can add participants based on additional coach availability. 15-20 girls; 3 coaches. 20-30 girls; 4 coaches.

Why does my school not have the program? Can my daughter still participate?

There are a few factors that play into whether or not a school hosts the programs:

  • Each team must have at least 2 trained volunteer coaches
  • The school must support the program and agree to allow us to operate the program on site
  • There must be enough interest in the program to have at least 8 girls on the roster

If all of these are not met, we are not able to run the program at that site.  If your school does not have a program this season, you do have a few options:

  • Contact us if you or someone you know is interested in coaching
  • Talk to your school administration and/or guidance staff to engage their interest in the program and its benefits and earn their support
  • Your girl can participate at any other site where the program is offered (we do not provide transportation).

Why isn't there more focus on running?

Girls on the Run is a positive youth development program that is primarly focused on the social emotional development of girls at this age.  Running is used to inspire and motivate girls, encourage lifelong health and fitness, and build confidence through accomplishment. Important social, psychological, and physical skills and abilities are developed and reinforced throughout the program and running is just a part of that.  At each season's conclusion, the girls and their running buddies complete a 5k running event which gives them a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals.

The curriculum builds in a training component meant to prepare the girls to complete the 5K at whatever pace they are comfortable with and that makes them feel successful.

What is a Running Buddy?

A running buddy is family member, relative or friend over the age of 15 who runs with the Girls on the Run or Heart & Sole participant in the 5K. The Running Buddy stays with the participant for the entire event. They provide encouragement and support for the participant throughout the race. Having someone to run with really makes it a fun experience for the participants and Running Buddies. The Running Buddy also helps us ensure safety on the course.  The Running Buddy mus register separately for the 5K at www.ymcagbw.org/5K.


What should I expect on 5K day?

You should expect to have fun and to celebrate your girl for her awesome accomplishment!

The Chester County Girls on the Run 5K is run simultaneously with the YMCA STRIDE 5K Challenge and is meant to be a celebration and in no way competitive.  There is no awards ceremony and there is a great deal of energy, fun and smiles!

For all the details related to the Girls on the Run 5K, please visit www.ymcagbw.org/5K.