By Madeline Gardner
Christina Jackson, a kindergarten teacher going on her sixth year at Pinecrest Elementary School, is instituting a Girls on the Run program at the school after raising sufficient funds with donations from the community. It will serve to provide girls in third through fifth grade with the opportunity to participate in the physical and character-building components of this extracurricular program. Using DonorsChoose, a nonprofit organization that processes individual donations for use in public school classrooms and programs, Jackson raised $600 in less than eight hours and plans to use the funds to cover a team of eight girls.
Girls on the Run is a national nonprofit that is geared towards providing young girls with social, behavioral and physical skills in an effort to encourage living healthy lifestyles. Through a mixture of instruction and curriculum as well as running itself, the program helps the youths construct a healthy balance between their emotional and physical states while building their confidence. After expressing a personal desire to become a mentor to children in the community, Jackson said she sees this as an opportunity to become more involved with the students at Pinecrest Elementary.
“Last year, I started a mentor program through my church. I was assigning adults to one student, and they would visit them once a week for an hour and spend time with them. And it was cool to see, so I became interested in mentoring kids myself. I started researching how I could get into it, and I like to run — that’s how I came across this program,” said Jackson.
The money raised will serve to cover the expenses of uniform T-shirts, water bottles, notebooks for activities surrounding the completion of the intended curriculum and more for their meetings, held twice a week after school. The program will also serve as an opportunity for girls of age to participate in team sports who may not otherwise have access due to a lack of transportation or funds. Jackson hopes that by implementing Girls on the Run at her school, she will be exposing the kids to a positive extracurricular program they can participate in to build their self-confidence.
“I just want the girls to feel empowered and equipped,” said Jackson. “I want them to love themselves and know that they can do hard things.”