Girl Power: Running Helps Tampa Sisters Build Confidence

When a girl works toward her potential, the result can be extraordinary. For two sisters, Summer and Ella, and more than 1,200 of their peers, Girls on the Run programs have helped them do just that. 

Girls on the Run is a transformational and physical activity-based youth development program for girls in grades 3-8, which has been proven to improve confidence, competence, caring ability, character and connection to others.

For 16-year-old Summer, Girls on the Run helped her overcome health challenges associated with her asthma — which put her in the hospital twice. Her school counselor suggested she join Girls on the Run to help her improve her confidence and overall well-being. After joining the program, Summer saw her health improve and even became a member of her school’s cross-country team.

After seeing her sister’s success, Ella, who is six years younger, looked forward to the day when she could participate and hopefully overcome her inherent shyness. 

“Ella was so shy when she was young that her doctor had her tested for hearing problems,” said her mother, Krystal Miller. “She had a very hard time speaking but it was really about self-confidence and not a medical issue.”

Ella’s school, Richey Elementary, is one of 42 Greater Tampa Bay Area elementary and middle schools to offer the Girls on the Run program. Unfortunately, the cost to participate was beyond her family’s financial means. Through partners, such as UnitedHealthcare, local businesses and donors, as well as the program’s two 5K fundraising events, Girls on the Run was able to help Ella, and many other girls, participate with its scholarship program.

After joining the program, Ella was able to make connections with others and realize her true star power, giving her a new level of self-confidence at a time she needed it the most. As true testimony to the power and impact of the program, Ella won this year’s Energy Award at Richey Elementary.

Girls on the Run teaches life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games, culminating with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5K event. In addition, the program inspires the least active participants at the beginning of their journey to improve their physical activity by more than 40 percent.