"We moved to Mankato when my daughter was in 3rd grade. Jenny* was excited (which is a big deal for us!) about having this activity after school. She immediately was excited about her coaches and the other girls in the program. Jenny continued with the program for 3 years and she loved it. GOTR helped her build friendships, feel good about herself and learn how to enjoy physical activity (that is not competitive). She looked up to the coaches as role models.
Now in Heart & Sole, Jenny is making even more friends. As a middle schooler, we feel she needs to be more physically active and socially active. Heart & Sole is perfect. Her coaches often come up in everyday conversation and she has made new friends through the program. She is also so proud of her accomplishments of running SEVEN 5Ks, a feat I wouldn't even have imagined doing at that age!
I can't say enough good things about the program. I would encourage any girl who would benefit from a warm group and positive vibes to join (and really, who wouldn't benefit from that!). Thank you Girls on the Run and Heart & Sole for teaching Jenny to be confident, a good friend and make healthy choices!" -GOTR/H&S Parent
*Name has been changed.
GOTRockstar – Ashley Aukes
Who or what inspired you to bring Girls on the Run to New Ulm?
My daughter had to run a timed mile for gym class in second grade (last year). When she came home that day she was so discouraged and sad about her time and how fast the other kids were. A lot of bells went off in my head in this moment. Where was her confidence to know it was okay to go her own pace? How could I help her become a better runner if she wanted? Then I remembered a former co-worker of mine telling me about the Girls on the Run program and how she was a coach. Finding the information online, I was disappointed the program wasn’t available in New Ulm. But I knew that my daughter needed it! I contacted YWCA Mankato and started the process of bringing it to my community.
What about the program did you enjoy the most?
Even though the program is called Girls on the RUN, we encouraged the girls to do any type of movement as long as it moved them forward. We had some girls that ran, some that walked and some that skipped or did cartwheels! The girls never felt discourages if they weren’t the fastest. They were more focused on their own personal goal.
Did you have a favorite lesson?
I loved the lesson that teaches how to compromise to reach a decision. The method we taught the girls, I plan to replicate in my adult life.
How has the program impacted your life?
As a coach, you can’t leave the season without feeling like you made a difference in the lives of these young girls. That will forever stick with me. I also learned skills through the lessons that have helped me better communicate and encourage my own daughter.
What kind of impact did it have on your daughter?
Her confidence soared by the end! Running with her during the 5K and having her push ME to keep running was an experience I’ll never forget. Her face when she crossed the finish line said it all. She also made lasting friendships with kids from different school who she may have never met otherwise.
Why is GOTR important?
There is no other program like it. Crossing physical activity with self-development is so vital at this age of a girls’ life.
What advice would you give your 10 year old self?
Be yourself, love yourself, you are perfect just the way you are!
What advice would you give to a future coach or someone considering bringing the program to their community?
Do it! Whether you are coaching or starting a new program, the YWCA Mankato walks you through every step of the way. I always felt supported. Even with a busy life schedule, it never became overwhelming. They give you everything you need! Bringing this program to New Ulm, I truly consider as one of my proudest moments and best accomplishments.