Students compete in YMCA-sponsored event

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published June 5, 2017

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MOUNT CLEMENS/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Recently, nearly 3,000 girls across metro Detroit took part in an empowering event.

Locally, more than 400 girls throughout Macomb County participated in Girls on the Run, a YMCA-sponsored event.

Stacey Butler, community engagement manager for Girls on the Run and STRIDE, another popular local event, said Girls on the Run is an after-school program dedicated to empowering girls to live joyful, healthy and confident lives, and is open to girls in third through eighth grades.

“We teach life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games,” she said. “The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a noncompetitive, celebratory 5K running event.

“Every girl, whether she runs, skips, walks or cartwheels across the finish line, leaves the event with a stronger sense of self-confidence,” Butler said. “The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.”

A group of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade girls from Atwood Elementary School participated in Girls on the Run on May 21 at Lake St. Clair Metropark. Atwood is part of L’Anse Creuse Public Schools and is located in Macomb Township.

Stacy Goodrich has been a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Atwood, as well as a parent and coach. She oversees the Atwood team along with coaches Sandy Geno and Erika Johnson, and teen coach Shelbie Schwall.

“Girls on the Run is a teacher’s dream,” said Goodrich. “It is an amazing program that shows girls how to be healthy inside and out. It creates opportunity for learning skills like teamwork, compromise, empowerment and confidence building.”

The girls practiced for weeks leading up to the event, after school and rooting each other on along the way.

Goodrich said she knows the value of the Girls on the Run program firsthand, not only as a teacher and coach, but as a mom watching her daughter, Anna, who is participating in the program.

“The girls are inspiring,” said Goodrich, “as we watch them learn to stay positive, have respect for themselves and others, and stay physically active.

“I have been teaching here for 16 years,” said Goodrich. “I love the kids, I love my job and I love being part of Girls on the Run. I feel so thankful that I was able to start coaching a STRIDE program here last fall and will be doing it again next year.”

STRIDE is a fun fitness and running program for boys in grades three through five. Boys have the chance to share their thoughts and opinions about various life topics in a safe, encouraging environment that helps them develop character, while building their running endurance to compete in a 5K.

During practice, the girls also discussed possibilities for a community service project. With ideas ranging from planting flowers to donating books to picking up trash, the girls used their recent lessons on compromise and collaboration to come to a consensus.  In the end, they decided to have a food and clothing drive for the homeless.

The program has clearly left a positive mark on the young girls.

“At Girls on the Run, I learned to use my star power,” said fifth-grader Paige Kloka. “I could be in a bad mood or see a situation where there is a lot of drama with a group of girls, but I can enable my star power to change my mood and to make the decision to stay away from the drama.

“Using your star power means showing your best self,” Kloka said. “Sometimes clouds can cover your star. But you can activate your star power anytime to be positive and push the clouds away. We learn how to activate our star power by making healthy choices and choosing friends who share our positive way of thinking. Everyone has this power. We just have to use it.”

Fifth-grader Stella Marinello echoed the sentiment.

“I have learned how to make strong friendships and how to be strong mentally and physically,” Marinello said. “Girls on the Run teaches us how to work out problems by stating how we feel instead of using put-downs. We learn how it is important to talk about our emotions, and we learn positive ways to get along and be kind to each other.”

Anna Goodrich said she enjoys participating in Girls on the Run with her mom. 

“I would tell any of the younger girls at my school that they should join Girls on the Run next season,” she said. “It is fun and you learn so much about yourself.”


More YMCA programs
There’s a lot going on at the Macomb Family YMCA these days.

From Girls on the Run to summer camps, the Mount Clemens-based nonprofit organization prides itself on a mission of “strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”

Director Steve Krankota said carrying out that mission relies on the numerous activities and programs that are offered to thousands of Macomb County families.

“A lot of people think of the YMCA as a place for exercising, but it’s obviously more than that,” Krankota said. “The YMCA is a great community organization that does a lot of good things in the local community.”

Popular during the summer months when local students are on break from school are the YMCA’s day camps, which start this year the week of June 12. The camp programs run the entire summer, giving families options depending on their needs by days per week and hours per day. Some of the activities that the children are involved in during day camp include a range of indoor and outdoor recreation activities offered at the YMCA, educational opportunities, volunteer opportunities and field trips. Camps are geared toward appropriate age groups.

“The camps really bridge the gap between the end of school and the beginning of school,” said Krankota. During the summer, there are approximately 20 trained counselors leading day camps, and the YMCA offers scholarship assistance to allow many students to attend the camps.

The Macomb Family YMCA also offers year-round lessons like swimming, yoga for children and adults, water aerobics, karate, racquetball, and much more.

There are also regular fundraising events such as a golf outing in September — Krankota said they raised $14,000 during last year’s outing for the day camp scholarship program — as well as Halloween at the Y, Breakfast with Santa, and Parents Night the first Friday of each month.

For more information about the Macomb Family YMCA, including hours, call (586) 468-1411 or visit ymcadetroit.org/macomb. For more information about Girls on the Run programs, visit gotrdetroit.org or call the Plymouth YMCA at (734) 453-2904.

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