FARMINGTON — Encouraging young girls to aspire to discover and reach their potential while promoting a healthy, active lifestyle is what Fit Girls of Wilton, Maine is all about.
Fit Girls of Wilton, Maine is a running and reading program for girls in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. Six-week sessions are held in the fall and spring at Cape Cod Hill School, Academy Hill School, and Cascade Brook School.
“Reading and running go hand-in-hand, both opening doors for girls to have healthy bodies and healthy minds,” said program director Deb Aseltine.
On Thursday, Oct. 4, Fit Girls of Wilton, Maine met at Cascade Brook School. The group of nearly 30 girls listened intently as Aseltine read excerpts from “She Persisted” by Chelsea Clinton.
The girls learned about Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to serve in the United State Congress as both a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator, and the first woman to represent Maine in either.
They also learned about Olympic medalist and runner Florence Griffith-Joyner, and teacher and astronaut Sally Ride.
Aseltine shared a quote from Ride with the group, “Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see.”
Girls were given the opportunity to write down what they envisioned a Fit Girl could be.
Cinder Roberts, 11, of Farmington wrote, “I can be anything I want to be.”
After stretching, the group began a 30-minute session of running and walking. Each time the girls completed a quarter-mile lap, they received a stick. Once they collected four sticks, they could turn in the sticks for a bracelet.
“It gives them something tangible to show their progress,” explained Aseltine.
The program is non-competitive, and each girl was encouraged to find a pace that was comfortable for them.
Consensus among participants at Cascade Brook School is that the program is all about friendship, fitness and inspiration.
“The best part is being able to talk with my friends while we run,” said Mackenzie Atwood, 11 of Farmington.
Charlie Davenport, 10, of Temple agreed, “Running is fun. I like learning about role models, too. It is inspiring.”
As the fall session winds down, girls are preparing for the Fit and Fun 5K Run/Walk. Proceeds will benefit Fit Girls programs.
The timed event will be held Saturday, Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. around Wilson Lake, Wilton. The race will begin in the parking lot near the public boat launch off Canal Street. The event is open to all runners and walkers.
For more information or to pre-register, visit www.fitgirlsofwiltonmaine.org.