Running on girl power to build confidence

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — With a passion in her voice, Laura Moore gushes about the Girls On The Run program.

“My two loves, running and empowering women and girls, in this one beautifully, sparkly package,” said Moore.

She moved to Tampa from St. Louis to become the Director of the GOTR program here. The program is a fully-developed 10-week curriculum that trains girls in third through fifth grade to run a 5K.

“Our mission is to inspire girls to be happy, joyful and confident using running, using running for a 5K to teach them life skills,” said Moore.

Moore played soccer through college and fell in love with distance running as an adult.

“It’s my de-stresser. When I go out for long runs, I don’t go with music, so I just have time with me,” said Moore. “If I ever have a problem or something going on in my life, that is when I get it sorted out in my head.”

She makes a point that while the GOTR program uses running as the tool, it is really a program meant to build confidence in young girls. Moore says you can teach someone to run; you can give them water; you can even run beside them, but you cannot physically make them run.

“She’s put one foot in front of the other for 3.1 miles and gotten there. No one can take that away from her,” Moore said.

It’s that feeling of accomplishment after weeks of hard work that swells confidence in girls. Moore knows that pride must come from within in order for it to last as these girls grow up.

“If your confidence is based on the outside from people telling you that you’re great, or you’re special or you’re wonderful, as soon as someone says you’re not those things, your confidence is gone.

Each year, the GOTR program reaches about 900 girls in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Sarasota counties. Currently, there are 32 sites, but Moore says they are always looking to expand. The next 10-week session begins February 19, and it will culminate in the 5K on May 6th at Poynter Park in St. Petersburg.

If you want to learn more about the Girls On The Run program, members and coaches will have a booth at the 8 On Your Side Health and Fitness Expo on February 24-25, which is a free event that will be held at the East Hall in the Tampa Convention Center. Hours are: Friday, February 24, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.Saturday, February 25, 6 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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