NEW STUDY DEMONSTRATES THAT GIRLS ON THE RUN TRANSFORMS YOUNG GIRLS’ LIVES
A recent independent study provides compelling evidence that Girls on the Run is highly effective at driving transformative and lasting change in the lives of third to fifth grade girls. The program’s intentional curriculum places an emphasis on developing competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution in young girls through lessons that incorporate running and other physical activities. Throughout the course of the ten-week program, girls learn critical life skills including managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others and making intentional decisions. It is the combination of the research-based curriculum, trained coaches and a commitment to serve all girls that sets Girls on the Run apart from other after-school programs.
Girls on the Run: Evidence of Program Impact In 2016, Girls on the Run conducted a rigorous, independent study conducted by Dr. Maureen Weiss and her research team to evaluate the impact of Girls on the Run on positive youth development. The study also looked at how Girls on the Run participants differ from a comparison group of girls in physical education or organized sports programs on developmental outcomes and life skills. We provide a summary of findings here and more detailed information about the sample, measures, and results can be obtained in the summary report written by Dr. Weiss.
Girls made their greatest gains in confidence and connection. They improved in how much they liked the kind of person they are and how happy they felt with the way they looked, and were more likely to say they have classmates who like them the way they are.
85% of girls improved from pre- to post-season in confidence, competence, connection, character, or caring.
Girls who began the program with below-average scores significantly improved from pre- to post-season on all outcomes—competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring.
Girls who were the least active at the start of the season increased their physical activity level by 40% from pre- to post-season and maintained this increased level beyond season’s end.
Girls who were more sedentary at the start of Girls on the Run reduced time spent watching TV and playing video and computer games by 20% from pre- to post-season.
Almost all girls (97%) said they learned critical life skills including managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others or making intentional decisions at Girls on the Run that they are using at home, at school and with their friends
The majority (85%) of girls credited Girls on the Run with their ability to manage emotions at home, at school, and in other settings.
The majority (80%) of girls credited Girls on the Run with their ability to resolve conflicts with their peers.
The majority (90%) of girls credited Girls on the Run with their ability to help others in their day-to-day lives.
The majority (91%) of girls credited Girls on the Run with their ability to make intentional decisions, such as choosing the right friends and thinking before acting.
Most girls (70%) who improved from pre- to post-season sustained improvements in competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, or physical activity three months after the end of the season.
The large majority (81%) of girls credited Girls on the Run with their ability to transfer life skills of managing emotions, resolving conflicts, helping others, or making intentional decisions beyond season’s end.
Girls in Girls on the Run were significantly more likely than girls in physical education or organized sports programs to learn and use life skills including managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others and intentional decision making.
In focus group interviews, girls, coaches, parents/guardians, AND school personnel were unanimous in characterizing Girls on the Run as a program promoting positive youth development.
Findings provide strong evidence that Girls on the Run is effective in promoting positive youth development, including season-long and lasting change in competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, physical activity, and life skills.
Girls on the Run makes a stronger impact than organized sports and physical education programs in teaching life skills, demonstrating that strategies such as those for managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others, and making intentional decisions are optimized when they are explicitly taught.
The program’s unique, intentional curriculum taught by trained coaches explains the season-long improvements in social, psychological, and physical behaviors as well as learning of critical life skills that benefit girls in their everyday lives.
Study Team Maureen R. Weiss, Ph.D., led the independent study for Girls on the Run, which included a team of 10 other professionals and graduate students. Dr. Weiss is a professor in the School of Kinesiology and adjunct professor in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She has published more than 150 refereed journal articles and book chapters and has edited or co-edited four books on youth sport and physical activity. She received the 2014 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Science Board’s Honor Award. In 2016, she received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity. Dr. Weiss has held multiple professional organization leadership roles in her field of expertise. She has delivered more than 125 invited lectures, 150 research presentations and 100 workshops for coaches, administrators and teachers.