'Girls on the Run' teaches teamwork, unity

An early Sunday morning for some was also the start of a 5K race and the end of a long journey for nearly 4,000 elementary and middle school girls from across Northern Virginia.

“It teaches us a bunch of teamwork and how to work together,” said Natalie Allen, a fourth grader at Lees Corner Elementary.

After school, two days a week, every week, these girls have been training for the race—that was held Sunday at George Mason University. But, it's the important life lessons they've learned along the way that is at the core of "Girls on the Run."

“It teaches you how to solve things in life. It helps you a lot and makes you stronger as a person,” said Lees Corner Elementary fourth grader Ryna Malik.

Laurie Walowsky is one of the 650 volunteer coaches that work with the girls at 200 schools.

“It's a fabulous way to teach the girls that they can do anything they put their minds to, setting goals, accomplishing what they want to do for themselves,” said Walowsky of Lees Corner.

The program instills confidence and self-esteem.

“I've had some girls that are very shy and then they start coming out of their shells and it's just a beautiful sight,” Walowsky.

And to run the 5K, each girl had to get an adult to run with them, usually mom or dad.

“Not only has she become a better runner, but she's also become a better person. She's more outgoing. She's more considerate of others,” said Jennifer Chapman, a mother of a student in the 5K.

So, with the help of Girls on the Run, the future for these girls looks very bright.