By: Jenn Chapman
Julie Thomson, Fall Creek
Simply put, confidence is rooted in trust. Trust that has the ability to infuse belief or assurance in an individual or situation. Confidence is a continuous focus for those who work in youth development. A 2016 study conducted by the health care product company, Dove, found that only 11% of girls globally are comfortable describing themselves as ‘beautiful’ and yet 72% of girls responded that they feel pressure to be beautiful. This is just one small example of the gap between perceived expectations and actual self-esteem that exist in our female culture today. Kim Gillett, who is entering her 4th year as council director for the Girls on the Run Program in the Chippewa Valley, sees this disparity first hand. However, it’s something her program is combating on a regular basis by giving girls the correct tools to facilitate positive thinking and self- awareness. Julie Thomson, Fall Creek
“We are empowering them by teaching them life skills. As parents you want to talk to them about body image, self confidence, and relationships, but sometimes we just don’t get to do that,” says Kim. “This program does it by getting them moving, creating discussion about what a healthy lifestyle looks like, but also teaching them how important it is to have a healthy mind as well,” Kim adds. GOTR is a national organization that opened its first chapter in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was first introduced to the Eau Claire area in 2006 beginning with just 8 young runners. The GOTR Chippewa Valley celebrated its 10th year in 2016 with 340 members from grades 3 through 5 and 120 volunteer coaches at 26 different locations across the Chippewa Valley. The organization puts together a 10-week program that begins in February and ends in May. There are 2 sessions a week where the girls meet to run and learn life skills. The conclusion of the program has each girl finish a 5k race in Eau Claire.