Girls on the Run expanding in Roanoke Valley

Program expanding to four new schools; coaches needed

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Alexis Underwood, a 9-year-old Fort Lewis Elementary School student, is looking forward to being a girl on the run this fall.

"We do a community project, we run a 5K, we train twice a week," Alexis said when asked why she was looking forward to the program.

Fort Lewis is one of four new local schools planning to participate in the Girls on the Run program.

Alexis' mom, Heidi, is already stepping up to help.

"I have a girlfriend whose daughter is involved in the Girls on the Run program at another elementary school. This past year, she was talking to me about the Girls on the Run program," Heidi said.

The program is looking for more coaches, but if no one signs up, Fort Lewis Principal Kim Smith says she's ready to jump in to keep the program from being canceled.

"We want to promote cooperation and kids working together for positive means, especially with everything in the media about bullying," Smith said.

Roanoke-area Girls on the Run coordinator Athena Spencer says a program has never had to be canceled due to a lack of coaches, which is why she's urging people to become one at any participating school.

"A lot of our coaches say that it's a life-changing experience and they learn just as much as the girls do," Spencer said.

The coaches can only help, though, if they have girls to coach.

"It will help you be closer to other girls and maybe make some friends," Alexis said.

Those are words that will hopefully motivate girls to go on the run.

If you're interested in being a coach, click here.