Girls on the Run: A Leader in Promoting Positive Youth Development

In 2017, Dr. Maureen Weiss — professor at the University of Minnesota and panelist at the Girls on the Run 25th Birthday virtual event — and her colleagues completed a longitudinal study of the Girls on the Run curriculum and program delivery in promoting positive youth development among 8- to 12-year-old girls. A summary report gives an overview of findings, and two peer-reviewed articles published in Pediatric Exercise Science detail the methods, results and demonstrated impact of Girls on the Run in positively influencing life skills learning, social and emotional development, and healthy behaviors. Improvements were especially strong for girls who started the season with lower scores than their peers. A listing of these outcomes can be found below.

The two articles feature in-depth information on (1) positive change from preseason to postseason to three months after season’s end, (2) favorable comparison to girls in organized sport on life skills learning and transfer, and (3) interview responses from coaches, caregivers and school personnel providing evidence of girls’ improved social and emotional behaviors and skills because of participating in Girls on the Run. The summary report and peer-reviewed articles can be found here:

  1. Girls on the Run: A Longitudinal Study of Program Impact
  2. Girls on the Run: Impact of a Physical Activity Youth Development Program on Psychosocial and Behavioral Outcomes (2019)
  3. Evaluating Girls on the Run in Promoting Positive Youth Development: Group Comparisons on Life Skills Transfer and Social Processes (2020)

Girls on the Run showed strong positive impact on:

Life skills learning and transfer:

  • Managing emotions
  • Resolving peer conflicts
  • Helping others
  • Making intentional decisions

Social and emotional development:

  • Self-esteem
  • Perceived physical competence
  • Perceived social competence
  • Perceived physical appearance
  • Feelings of positive connection to peers
  • Respect for others and social responsibility
  • Empathy and sympathy for others
  • Contributing to community

Healthy behaviors

  • Increased physical activity levels
  • Decreased sedentary behavior, such as less screen time (TV, video games)
  • Better nutritional decisions, such as choosing healthier foods
  • Improved social and emotional health, such as standing up for self and others, dealing effectively with peer pressure, maintaining a healthy body image and choosing a strong core of friends

If your company or organization is interested in partnering with us to further our mission of helping girls unleash their limitless potential and boldly pursue their dreams, click here. If you’re a parent interested in registering your girl for one of our life-changing programs, connect with your local council today!

Join Dr. Maureen Weiss and the rest of our incredible panel of female trailblazers at our 25th Birthday virtual eventRSVP today!

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