Girls On The Run.


About So Much More Than Running

By-Bradley Finnearty (reprint from

The mission for, “Girls on the run”, is to teach young girls how to build confidence and demonstrate a positive character to respect themselves and others. They also learn how to care for those around them and form connections with girls within their networks. They teach the value of competence because we may be from different communities, but learning the importance of skill-building is good if an individual wishes to be effective when faced with various tasks or presented with multiple opportunities.


The organizations international headquarter is in Charlotte, North Carolina, and 1996 was when the dream all began to increase positive youth development. Educator and Ironman, Molly Barker, the founder of “Girls on the Run”, started with 13 girls to encourage elementary and middle schools girls to become more active in the community and build confidence within themselves.

Empowering girls to be their best.

Executive Director of Central Ohio, Jess Sparks, spoke to the New American Magazine about Girls on the run of Central Ohio. Girls on the run of Central Ohio started back in 2008. It is Central Ohio certified, which serves Franklin, Delaware, Knox Union, and Fairfield, but we are part of a national network of the girls on the run in all fifty states.


We primarily work with schools, also with libraries, churches, and community centers. Anywhere people can safely meet up and have outdoor spaces to be active. Girls can sign up at the beginning of the fall and spring seasons. The sign-up for our springs season happens in January, and the season starts in March. Our fall season sign-up begins in late August or early September, and that season begins in September and runs through November. We serve girls in Grade 3 to 8, generally ages 8 to 13, but we are grade base. Grades 3 to 5 are girls on the girl & Camp Gotr, Grades 6 to 8 is the heart & sole (caters to middle schools), and girls who are 16-18 years old have the opportunity to become junior coaches to help sharpen the next generation.


For anyone interested in volunteering opportunities with Girls on the run of Central Ohio, or if you want to become a volunteer group with a group of girls visit our website, which is, and click on the volunteer icon.


The organization serves girls in many different communities, whether it be a newly arrived family or a family that has been here for generations. We want the girls and their families to understand that everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. The mission is to get girls from different backgrounds to see each other doing the same thing and encourage one another to give it their best.

Continuation of the mission:

We are so excited that we can be back and operating this 5k by offering this opportunity for our girls. It was good to see our volunteers interviewing all of the girls talking about participating in the 5k, and of course, the last two years. The opportunity to reconnect with friends, especially what's been happening the last 20 months, is something that the girls were looking forward to based on our conversations with them.

Preparing for 2021 5k:

We had the event last year virtually, but we wanted to focus more on providing additional training to our volunteers to understand how covid-19 impacts children. Some may think that covid has not impacted the children's lives, so our volunteer coaches must understand how to respond to different behaviors that they might see in the girls that are not normal.

Numbers or Stats:

We had 600 girls, 211 volunteer coaches, and, well, almost 300 to 400 community runners. There were roughly over 500 to 600 spectators who came to cheer on all participants and support "Girls on the road." The 5k started at the Columbus Commons located at 160 S High St, Columbus, OH 43215. It looped around downtown Columbus and finished at the Commons. Elementary Schools educators and administrators can visit to register their school to participate.