Michaela is a United Way volunteer. She is a coach for the Girls on the Run Program. The Girls on the Run program was piloted in Knox County in Spring of 2018 at Columbia Elementary School. The program, supported by United Way of Knox County and Licking/Knox Goodwill Industries, teaches elementary girls life skills and self-empowerment through conversation-based lessons and running games. It extends over 10-weeks and culminates in completion of the organization's 5K race and celebration in Columbus, Ohio. She is also a previous Girls on the Run program participant.
Michaela was a self-proclaimed shy kid, she didn’t talk much, and she never thought she would be able to run a 5K, but her girls on the run coaches encouraged her individuality. She still remembers the buzz of excitement and pride at finishing her 5K. The coaches are who made the race experience great for her. “As a child, I was looking for someone to mentor me – I was looking for approval. Girls on the Run made me feel like I did not need that approval.” When Columbia Elementary representatives came to her school looking for volunteers, Michaela jumped at the chance to do the same for the students. “As an adult, that is what I wanted to do for these girls. [Help them see that] you are beautiful, you don’t need to be like everyone else. You don’t need their approval.”
She passionately feels the program is relevant to girls today. “Today’s society – seeing magazines with what you are supposed to look like and how you should act. This program empowers girls to get away from what they are “supposed” to be and remind them that they are beautiful. A lot of girls don’t hear that every day…that they are special and they are worthy. This program is where they can build self-confidence when they haven’t had it before… This what I saw these girls doing. Starting to love themselves more.” She also saw the program participants break through social barriers, using Star Power awards to creatively recognize each other for their uniqueness “They wanted each other to feel like they did a good job”.
Michaela is just one of the many coaches for Girls on the Run. As a group, they join the other various volunteers of United Way of Knox County programs. We share her story and encourage you to share your own. By donating to United Way of Knox County’s Campaign, you will be supporting Girls on the Run and the other local programs that United Way implements or invests in. Give, Advocate, Volunteer. LIVE UNITED.