Girls program director helping to inspire girl empowerment

A national nonprofit is helping young girls build character and confidence one step at a time while training for a 5K Race.
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 2:45 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A national nonprofit is helping young girls build character and confidence one step at a time while training for a 5K Race.

Running across the finish line and completing a 5K is just one of the accomplishments young girls celebrate when joining the Girls on The Run Program.

During the 10-week session, as they prepare their bodies for the race, they are also working on their minds, learning how to set goals while recognizing their unique strengths.

Annie Horn, the Executive Director of Girls on the Run Greater Cincinnati, says the program accepts girls in the third through eighth grades. That follows a national curriculum structured into three parts.

“The first part of the 10-week session, the girls learn about themselves,” explains Horn. “What do they stand for? What are their values? What makes them unique? Then we move into their peer group. So, how do they stand up for others? How do they be a good friend? And then lastly, now that they discovered their strengths, both individually and collectively, they come together as a team and create a community impact project at the site of their school to teach them that they have the power to make change in the world around them.”

While the program ends with a 5K celebration, Horn says the intent of the program is not to create runners but to tap into the girls’ limitless potential.

“So, statistically, a girl’s self-confidence begins to drop at age nine and continues to drop thereafter,” says Horn. “So, in a world, in a time where girls are being told what they can’t do, what they aren’t, how they’re not good enough, we’re trying to change that narrative.”

A similar narrative Horn says she became trapped in after losing her father to brain cancer when she was 13.

“That just really set off a really deep spiral into depression and anxiety,” members Horn. “And I was really lost for many years, which turned into an eating disorder and so the confidence that I lacked during those years, I only now have because people invested in me.”

The confidence led her to step away from a career in construction to have more time with her family while working her way up the ranks in the nonprofit sector.

Now, she’s using that energy to invest in other girls across the Tri-State, keeping them on track and focused, including her biggest inspiration, her daughter.

“So, to step away from a six-year career, that was a lot, but I knew I had to for my daughter,” Horn explains. “I had to be the example for her and not live in regret with what could have been.”

She says her new career has brought her more happiness than she ever imagined.

“If you want your heart to be full of joy, just stand at our finish line at the 5K. That is the most beautiful spot,” Horn says.

The race this year will be on May 13 at Yeatman’s Cove. The 5K is open to the public.

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