From a lacrosse club to fitness and nutrition programs, Philly Girls in Motion is encouraging young girls ages 8-14 to become more active and make healthy life choices. The organization was founded in 2010 by Beth Devine, a swimmer, runner and triathlete who left her corporate job to work with young girls full-time.
Currently, Philly Girls in Motion runs a lacrosse club, an after-school fitness program at St. Thomas Aquinas School, and two fitness and healthy habits programs offered twice a week at Guerin Recreational Center in South Philadelphia and Simons Recreational Center in West Oak Lane. Volunteers facilitate the programs and professional fitness instructors teach a variety of classes including Zumba and Yoga.
When Devine approached Guerin Recreational Center manager, Debbie Darroyo back in 2011 about finding a space for the fitness program, Darroyo knew the city needed a girls-only outlet such as Philly Girls in Motion.
“Working at Guerin Recreation Center, I saw how reluctant girls were to get involved with sports and fitness. Most of the successful programs focused on boys with the girls sitting and watching,” Darroyo said.
Jennifer Rogers, coordinator at the Guerin fitness and healthy habits program, has been volunteering with Philly Girls in Motion for over three years.
“We try to build self-esteem more so than preach anything. We want the girls to learn it is fun to work out and that getting strong is a good thing,” Rogers said.
Partnering with CHOP to Teach Wellness
In addition to local recreational centers, Philly Girls in Motion also partners with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Healthy Weight Program to provide a very simple curriculum of games and exercises that give a quick hit lesson on making better choices. Topics include nutrition, sleep and screen time.
CHOP Healthy Weight Program physical activity specialist Rachel DeHaven meets with girls at Philly Girls in Motion’s rec center fitness programs once during the course of the eight week program and participants receive resources such as cookbooks or pedometers.
“The girls love it,” Devine said. “Rachel makes everything a fun game and by the end of the night the girls are wiped out and walk away with some great resources.”
The girls are currently spending Monday sessions completing training runs for the upcoming Philly Girls in Motion fundraiser See Chicks Run, a female-only 5K/10K to be held on June 7 along Forbidden Drive. The girls are currently completing up to two mile runs each week.
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The program has also inspired some of the girls to ask their parents to adjust household grocery lists to incorporate the nutritional aspects they are learning about in their sessions.
Expanding to Educate More Girls
Philly Girls in Motion is continuing to grow — the organization will be offering a running club in partnership with a West Coast group called the Mini Mermaid Running Club. Philly Girls in Motion’s running club will consist of five or six girls who will participate in 12 sessions.
Each week, as part of the club, there will be a curriculum that focuses on one part of the body and how it relates not only to physical movement and exercise but also growth as a person.
“So we will talk about the head, we talk about the heart, we talk about the legs and all the things that come into the experience of movement and running and the games that we play,” Devine said.
Philly Girls in Motion not only has a positive impact on the girls, but the volunteers benefit from participating as well. One volunteer lost 30 pounds during her time with Philly Girls in Motion because she wanted to set a good example for the girls.
“I know that when I’m feeling off about decisions or whatever, I go to a session,” Devine said. “I watch the kids and jump into a couple exercises with them and it all comes back around. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
Image via Beth Devine-30-
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