More than 500 people participated in the Girls on the Run Piedmont 5K Sunday, Nov. 18.
Started in 2013, the Piedmont chapter of Girls on the Run has grown to include 262 girls and 84 coaches from Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison and Rappahannock counties.
The program combines athletic ability with life skills the young girls will use later in life.
“They’re learning these skills, how to set boundaries, how to deal with negative self talk, it’s definitely critical skills these girls need,” Kathy Butler, Council Director of Girls on the Run Piedmont.
Girls on the Run Piedmont is in eight of the 10 Culpeper County Schools, and Culpeper County has between 150-160 girls participating in the program. While Fauquier is the largest county in terms of size, Butler said, Culpeper has the most girls in the program.
With the program celebrating its fifth birthday, Butler said that participation is not the only aspect growing. She pointed to the number of volunteers helping Sunday.
“I’ve just been floored by how many people we’ve had come out to do it,” Butler said. “We’re grateful the police departments come out, they’re always grateful to us. Hopefully we can keep some kids out of trouble in the future.”
Culpeper Town Police Officer Jason Smith ran along with the girls, wearing a pink tutu.
“We like to get involved with the community a lot,” Smith said. “We like to try to prevent versus the alternative. If there are any kids who want to get involved with this program or other programs we have, we’re around to do that.”
Butler said she hopes Girls on the Run Piedmont continues to grow.
“Ideally I want to be in every school in all four counties and available to any girl who wants to (join),” Butler said.