Girls on the Run from left Aleah Reynolds, Madilyn Marchant, Elsie Baker, Ashlyn Erb, Jillian White, Brooke Larson, and Emmi Poulin are seen on Thursday, May 16, at Kingfield Elementary School during a practice run for a future 5k. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

KINGFIELD — Girls on the Run [GOTR] International, a program serving over 2 million girls across North America, has had a positive impact on communities. Within Kingfield, the local chapter of Girls on the Run has been instrumental in nurturing young girls, with a focus on empowerment and life skills development.

The program caters to third to fifth-grade girls, offering a curriculum tailored to their needs. According to Erica Luce, 2nd grade teacher at Kingfield Elementary School [KES], “The curriculum is set for this age group and is not supposed to be changed. I do occasionally change time amounts to suit the needs of the girls we have in the program that year.”

Luce works alongside a handful of volunteer assistant coaches over the course of 10 weeks, closely engaging with participating girls in the program twice a week after school. During the designated meet-up times, the girls work on developing life skills.

Luce said the whole curriculum is all about building their “star power” and finding ways to build each other up. “The girls work out of journals that are given to them to work through during the program and to keep once the program is over, with all of the tools for their Girls on the Run toolbox to help support their “star power,” Luce said. “We talk about all different types of “clouds” that can form and cover our “star power” and ways to make those gray clouds go away.”

At Kingfield, the program currently enrolls 10 girls, with an average yearly participation ranging between eight and 12 girls. While the numbers may seem modest, the impact is profound, evident in the growth observed over the years, said Luce.

“The beauty of this program is that it is not a Maine School Administrative District 58 program,” Luce said. “This means that homeschool students, students from Stratton, and beyond have joined the program. Seeing those friendships grow has been awesome to watch.”


Luce said one of her favorite things to see is them encouraging each other when running, walking, jogging, however they are moving that day. “Some days girls just aren’t feeling it and that is okay,” Luce said. She said others will still give out hi-fives and support walking laps with friends if that is what is needed that day.

Erica Luce, on right, second grade teacher at Kingfield Elementary School, runs with Jess Jeffries at the Girls on the Run practice run on May 16 at Kingfield Elementary School. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

“Girls on the Run makes me feel happy, athletic, and energized,” said Elsie Baker, a nine-year-old, third grader at KES. “This program has helped me to build a healthy lifestyle. Because you are outside a lot running, you have to be okay with moving your body and exercising for at least an hour.”

Emphasizing emotional management, friendship building, and empathy, Girls on the Run ensures these lessons translate into real-life applications, said Luce. Luce highlighted the support system in place, “Most girls go to KES which makes it easy to help the translation to real-world applications by having them at school.”

The fourth grade teacher has helped out in the past which has also helped support this work, noted Luce. “The communication home to parents with weekly emails also helps support the transfer. There are many times a lesson might hit a particular girl hard and touching base with the parent at the end of practice helps support this work as well.”

“My experience with Girls on the Run has been so fun, it is engaging and really good for my body. Girls on the run has helped me to find my rainbow, my rainbow of happiness.” said Jillian White, a nine-year-old, third grader from KES.

Volunteer coaches play a crucial role, receiving training from Girls on the Run Maine to effectively deliver impactful lessons. Luce ensures coordination among coaches before each season. “It is important to understand how we will work together and what parts of lessons the different coaches will deliver,” she noted.


“GOTR Maine does the training,” Luce said. “They make sure that all coaches and volunteers understand the language and their role in the girls’ lives. I meet with the team before we start the season to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

“Girls on the Run is really nice because it provides me with somewhere to run with my friends.” said Delilah White, a 10-year-old, fourth grader from KES.

“Girls on the Run makes me feel like I am moving a lot, it has helped me to think about how to add more movement, specifically running, to my daily life,” said Ashlynn Erb, an eight-year-old, third grader from KES.

The Girls on the Run celebrate their practice 5k with snacks and hat decorating on May 16 at the Kingfield Elementary School. Courtesy Photo/Erica Luce

Since its inception, Girls on the Run in Kingfield has achieved significant milestones. “I have been really proud of the support that girls have given our community,” Luce said. “Each year, it is a requirement to give back to the community by performing a community service project. Most years, the girls hand out water for the Sugarloaf Marathon at the one mile to go water stop. They cheer and support others. It is amazing to see them give back to the community by performing a community service project.” The program’s longevity is another milestone, with Luce expressing pride in sustaining it for the past six years.

“The first year it was hard to get the buy-in but once I had it that first year the program has grown because the girls love it and are excited to tell their friends all about it. I would say the biggest achievement of them all is seeing the girls finish a 5K with a family member or friend,” Luce said. She said seeing their smiles and all of the hard work paying off makes it all worth it.

Girls on the Run in Kingfield held a practice 5K on May 16. Luce invited community involvement, saying, “We are always looking for volunteers to come and cheer the girls on, hold up the finish line, make snacks, take pictures, etc. We try to do tattoos and fancy hair to hype the girls up.”


The girls gathered excitedly for a group photo before embarking on their practice 5k run. Paired with their running buddies, they navigated the course together, sharing encouragement and support along the way. After completing each lap, they took a moment to hydrate, refuel with a skittle, and personalize their baseball caps with stickers and markers.

Allison Johnson and Emmi Poulin and her running buddy Allison Johnson participated with the Girls on the Run at Kingfield Elementary School, where they held a practice run on May 16 in Kingfield. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

Meanwhile, younger participants cheered enthusiastically with noise makers, adding to the atmosphere of camaraderie and motivation. Reflecting on the experience, one running buddy noted the girls’ journey from unfamiliarity with 5k runs to embracing the challenge, highlighting the holistic approach that includes both physical activity and valuable life lessons.

“At Girls on the Run, I have learned how to find my happy place, which I feel is important because it helps me to feel centered and in control,” said Elsie Clark, 10-year-old, fourth grader from KES. “Setting a good pace is important because you do not want to speed through life.”

“Girls on the Run has helped to push me to healthy limits,” said Emmi Poulin, 11-year-old, fifth grader from KES.


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