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Saint Francis Xavier girls are out to run

Published: Monday, May 13, 2013 9:17 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, May 13, 2013 9:19 a.m. CDT
(Photo provided by Eileen Daley)
Saint Francis Xavier students release pink balloons to celebrate their participation in Girls on the Run, a development program for girls based on physical activity. As part of the program, the 51 students will run a 5K at Toyota Park in June.

LA GRANGE – Third-grader Ava Mungo, 9, explained the tooth paste activity that taught her and other Saint Francis Xavier girls about gossipping.

They had to squeeze toothpaste out of a tube, then try to channel it back in.

"It just shows how hard it is to take back what you said," said Mungo.

Mungo and 50 other third, fourth and fifth grade girls released pink balloons into the air after school May 8 to mark their participation in Girls on the Run, a development program based on physical activity that emphasizes each girl's inherent beauty and individual strengths.

During the 12-week program, the girls gathered twice a week to participate in running games and interactive lessons taught by organizer Amy Wiginton and seven other coaches. The program culminates with the girls running a 5K run at Toyota Park in June, though they've already completed a practice 5K.

"I've never run that fast before in my life," said fifth-grader Margo McFadden, 11.

Katie Mulcahy, one of the coaches, said some of the girls were intimidated at first and not crazy about running. But instead of competing, they cheered each other on, she said.

"There's so much coming at them," said Jennifer Courier, the school's advancement director. "[But] you can teach them that something as simple as putting on a pair of shoes and running can really give them that esteem they need."

This was the school's first year participating in the program, which started in Charlotte, N.C. in 1996. The $171 contributed by each of the 51 Saint Francis Xavier students helps fund the program at schools with students who receive free lunches.

By working their way up to the 5K, the girls were able to realize what they could accomplish.

"I thought it would be a lot harder but it was actually a lot easier," Mungo said.

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