The vision of Girls on the Run is a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. How do we bring something so aspirational to life? In order for any of us to activate our limitless potential, we must be self-aware. This includes identifying and acknowledging the barriers - both within and without - that limit us. These barriers may be self-imposed or externally based; they may be painfully real or personally contrived. It is only by understanding these barriers that we can find the individual and collective pathways to move beyond them. This is how we manifest our limitless potential.
Our core values are the foundation of Girls on the Run and we strive to:
- Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making
- Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness
- Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions
- Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health
- Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent
- Stand up for ourselves and others
These values define the manner in which our staff and volunteers all across the country interact with others. They are the spirit that drives the organization and we see these values coming to life in our curriculum, our training programs and our daily operations.
We see them in the individual actions of our staff, volunteers, girls, alumni and parents as well. Many brought our core value of standing up for ourselves and others to life by participating in the marches held all across the country last month. We all need positive role models and it was inspirational to see countless members of our Girls on the Run family embodying this value in such a unifying way.
This unity aligns with our core value of embracing our differences and finding strength in our connectedness. The national growth of the Girls on the Run movement is key evidence of finding strength in our connectedness. However, as we witness the growing divide in our country, how can we effectively encourage embracing differences with others? Bridging this division is critical to ending the oppression and misogyny that have always been a part of our world history. With respect, empathy and resolve, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to building a world where all girls can know and activate their limitless potential.
The Oxford Dictionary word of the year for 2016 was ‘post-truth’ which is defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” In this post-truth era we currently find ourselves in, we have a profound obligation to recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making. In order to be intentional, we must ensure that we seek facts and knowledge that inform and educate our decision making.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s prophetic quote "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice" is one we find strength in at Girls on the Run. How can we bend the arc toward justice with people who may not share our values? While it is unrealistic to expect that we can be all things to all people, we must strive to connect with and understand those who have different values. This is where leading with an open heart and assuming positive intent is fundamentally important. It is only by making an effort to listen to those with perspectives different from our own that we can find a shared reality. A shared reality is something that we all agree upon and is the foundation upon which we build trust.
At Girls on the Run, we believe that there is one simple shared reality that all parents and caregivers have. They want the best for their children. This is why Girls on the Run plays such an important role in the communities it serves. We provide a safe, warm and welcoming place for all girls. We don’t tell girls what to think, we inspire them to realize that they are inherently full of potential with significant gifts to reveal to the world. What an essential lesson in self-awareness - and one that parents all across the United States can warmly embrace.
Author: Elizabeth Kunz
Elizabeth Kunz is the CEO of Girls on the Run International. Liz leads the organization with her head and her heart, coupling her sharp business acumen with a passionate commitment to empowering girls and women. She is incredibly grateful to serve an organization where she can activate her limitless potential and boldly pursue her dreams!