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Unlocking the Power Within 

Many girls simply are unaware of the unique gifts and power inside of them. It is up to us (parents, guardians, coaches, mentors) to unleash the immense value of their minds, talents and spirits. Because of societal norms or peer pressure, girls may interpret certain emotions or behaviors as negative or ‘wrong’, when in fact, these are the traits that make them one-of-a-kind. Does your girl enjoy building new worlds with Legos? Praise her for her clever construction mindset. Is she more interested in helping take care of the pet dog? Thank her for her heartfelt contributions and love of animals. Little passions pop up all the time with girls, and it is essential that we recognize their worth. Raising a competent, confident and strong girl starts with celebrating her individuality. 

Often girls feel disempowered when their passions conflict with societal norms. “What’s wrong with me?” “Am I weird?” “Why am I different?” NO! Your girl’s individualism is her superpower. What makes Captain Marvel a phenomenon are her unique characteristics (super-strength, flight and the power to harness cosmic energy, just to name a few) not what makes her blend in! If she didn’t believe in herself and trust in her individual gifts, who knows what would have happened to the Marvel universe. Additionally, the more her Avenger teammates believed in her, the stronger her impact became. Be your girl’s superhero partner. She’ll be able to fly twice as high.  

A powerful example of unlocking the power within comes in the success story of GOTR participant, Dillon. Throughout her education, Dillon always excelled in her math and science classes. She took pride in her great grades and had a genuine interest in the subject matter. Putting together pieces of a puzzle or solving an equation just made sense to Dillon and she learned quickly that this was destined to be a lifelong interest. However, as she got older, she became one of the only females in the classroom and had to make a decision. Shrink in fear or grow in confidence? Not letting this male-dominated industry intimidate her, she bravely chose the latter. Now, she is in the process of completing her master’s AND Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.  

Two combined. On the left, two Girls on the Run participants are running outside on a track. One of them is coach Dillon (in her youth), who is showing how GOTR helped with unlocking the potential within by confidently running in costume. On the right, Dillon (as an adult), is showing her talent and potential by leading a race at the university level.

(Left) Dillon (age 9, in banana costume) as a GOTR participant. (Right) Dillon leading the track & field team at Michigan State University.

To effectively unlock girls’ power within, representation is critical. If girls do not see themselves, they are less likely to believe in themselves. Show your girl that she is not alone and inform her of applicable role models. Celebrating the women who paved the way will teach girls that nothing is off-limits. Fortunately, thanks to these spearheading women, career pathways are becoming more inclusive every day – we just need to ensure girls are aware of these options. You never know what type of spark might ignite in your girl!  

 Plants that grow differently still need water and sunlight to thrive. Even if playing with Legos or walking the dog aren’t YOUR favorite pastimes, it is important to show your girl that her passions are meaningful and worth pursuing. By unlocking the power within girls, we help to break societal stigmas and inform them at an early age that what makes them unique or different is worth celebrating and exploring. 

 See how you can unlock the power within YOUR girl! To learn more about Girls on the Run programming and how to get involved, find a council near you!