A bit of cold weather won't stop these Girls on the Run
OTTAWA -- The frigid weather didn't stop a group of young women from completing their very first five-kilometre run in Nepean.
The strong winds couldn't drown out the loud cheers for Safa Hamich as she ran through the pink ribbon finish line.
"It feels pretty good," said Hamich, one of eight participants in the event put on by Girls on the Run.
Established in the U.S., the Girls on the Run Ottawa chapter is the first of its kind in Canada, born out of a partnership with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) Foundation.
The after-school program is aimed at developing social, emotional, and physical life skills through sport.
"You can see not only how they've grown in their physical running skill, but the program really helps them develop social and emotional skills as well," said Jenn Tang, with the OSEG Foundation.
To date, the program has nurtured more than two million girls ages 13 and under.
"My buddy completed her first five-K. It's the furthest she's ever run," said Girls on the Run board member Jayme Rae, who was Hamich's running partner, guiding her through the route in Nepean on a cold, frosty morning. "It's so inspiring to see all the girls out here working so hard for the past eight weeks. Consistency is what matters and showing up and having that accomplishment to kind of fuel whatever you want in the future."
The celebratory event was held at Bayshore Public School. Mascots, close friends, and family cheered on the young runners.
"The entire time we were running, they were cheering us on," explained participant Hannah Gasem. "Every time we did a lap, we got scrunchies."
The inaugural season is now complete but plans are underway to bring the program back in the spring, expanding to other communities throughout the national capital region.
The hope—to continue inspiring young women like the members of this year's Girls on the Run program and cultivate life lessons through sport.
"Never give up on what you want to become," said Maha Barak, also completing her first five-kilometre race.
"Believe in myself and be proud of myself if I win," said Hamich. "If I lose, I will learn a lesson and maybe I'll do better next time."