Healthwatch 16: Girls on the Run

SCRANTON -- A national nonprofit that teaches young girls good life lessons through running is expanding in part of our area.

Girls on the Run is kicking off two new chapters in Lackawanna County next week, and one of those chapters is in memory of a woman who, her friends say, would have loved to be involved.

It may seem like these girls were a little young to be racing last December. They weren't competing, and that's the point.

This was the 5K celebration of a national nonprofit called Girls on the Run.

Lackawanna County coordinator Gretchen Henderson explains the course is designed to help girls in third through fifth grades feel empowered and build better relationships.

"They can walk. They can skip. They can jump. Some girls run the whole thing. It's just about doing it on their own terms and celebrating what they've accomplished in 10 weeks," Henderson explained.

Girls on the Run covers topics such as self-esteem, standing up to gossip, and gratitude.

Amy Costanzo is a coach, starting a new chapter at Dunmore Elementary next week.

"Growing up is very difficult, and it will handle a lot of those topics, teach them how to handle certain situations that they'll find themselves in," Costanzo said.

Dunmore's isn't the only new chapter. There's also one starting next week at St. Clare/St. Paul School in Scranton. It's in memory of someone very special to coach Mimi Doherty.

"Running was something she was fantastic at. She was a runner her whole life," Doherty said about her sister-in-law Lindsay Doherty.

She had just completed the Scranton Half Marathon last year when she collapsed and died not long after at a hospital. A rare medical condition was to blame. She was just 36 years old.

Knowing how much Lindsay loved her community and running, Mimi says a Girls on the Run chapter in her honor seemed the perfect fit.

"It really extends to help girls be more joy-filled and confident and build friendships and demonstrate generosity, so many of the characteristics I saw and that we continue to honor in Lindsay that this program embodies."

Lindsay left behind three children, two of them daughters. And one will be tagging along for the inaugural season in Scranton.

"Hopefully this is something that will become important to Katie and Paige, and a way for them to honor their mother as they continue to grow," Doherty said.

Girls on the Run costs $150 per girl for the season, but there are scholarships for the program and even for sneakers.

Organizers say nobody is turned away if they'd like to take part.