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What We Do

At Girls on the Run we inspire girls to recognize their inner strength and celebrate what makes them one of a kind. Trained coaches lead small teams through our research-based curricula which includes dynamic discussions, activities and running games. Over the course of the ten-week program, girls in 3rd-8th grade develop essential skills to help them navigate their worlds and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness. The program culminates with girls positively impacting their communities through a service project and being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5K event.

Why It Matters

Girls face social pressures and conflicting messages about how they should act and who they should be. Studies show that by adolescence, girls’ confidence drops about twice as much as boys’. Friendships become more complicated and challenging, girls’ perception of their academic ability declines, the likelihood of anxiety and depression increases and participation in physical activity plummets.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We believe that EVERY GIRL is inherently FULL OF POWER and POTENTIAL. By knowing they are the leaders of their lives, these are the girls who WILL CHANGE THE WORLD.

What Girls Learn

  • Confidence
    • Lessons are designed to build girls’ self-worth and help them feel greater confidence in who they are. Activities help girls recognize their personal strengths and teach them how to stand up for themselves and others.
  • Care
    • Throughout each season, girls learn to respond to others and themselves with care and compassion. Lessons and activities further develop their abilities to sympathize and empathize both within and beyond their social groups.
  • Character
    • By gaining awareness of the power they possess to make intentional decisions, girls learn to choose positive actions which demonstrate respect and responsibility towards themselves and others.
  • Connections
    • Girls on the Run lessons focus on cooperative skills and team building through a positive group setting. Girls learn firsthand how to create positive connections with parents and caregivers, teachers, peers and their communities.
  • Competence
    • Our program provides skill-building experiences to nurture girls’ physical, social and emotional competencies that they apply in other areas of their lives such as home, school, and in the neighborhood. Completing a 5K at the end of the season gives them a tangible opportunity to apply all that they have learned.
  • Contribution
    • When girls develop and strengthen these life skills, they can thrive. More importantly, they can then develop a final skill: CONTRIBUTION. Girls on the Run inspires girls to build lives of purpose and to make a meaningful contribution to community and society. This comes to life through a key element of the curricula when each team creates and executes a community service project.

Our Programs

  • Girls on the Run (Grades 3-5)
    • Girls on the Run is our program for girls in 3rd-5th grade that encourages girls to recognize their individual strengths and celebrate connections with others. Each season, girls gain a better understanding of who they are and what’s important to them, the value of teamwork and healthy relationships and how they can have a positive impact on the world. Girls also make a meaningful contribution to their community through a team-organized Community Impact Project. Physical activity is woven into the program to inspire an appreciation for fitness and healthy habits and teach life skills including treating others with care, practicing gratitude and managing emotions. Each season culminates with a Girls on the Run 5K event. This celebratory, non-competitive event provides girls with a sense of accomplishment and instills the value of goal setting at a young age.
  • Heart & Sole (Grades 6-8)
    • Heart & Sole is Girls on the Run’s middle school program that meets the unique needs of girls in 6th-8th grade. The program considers the whole girl – body, brain, heart, spirit and social connection – in a positive, structured space where girls can learn about themselves, explore new ideas, cultivate empathy and strengthen connections. Running is incorporated into each lesson to encourage physical wellness and teach life skills such as team building, creating a support system, standing up for themselves and others and decision making. The girls prepare for a celebratory Girls on the Run 5K event at the end of the program. This non-competitive event fosters goal setting and a sense of confidence through accomplishment to last a lifetime.
  • SoleMates
    • SoleMates train for the athletic event of their choice, while raising money for Girls on the Run of York. SoleMates set personal goals, such as participating in a triathlon or half marathon event to raise critically needed funds that ensure our council is able to serve more girls in the greater York area.
    • Why become a SoleMate?
      • You’ll make a positive difference in the lives of girls.
      • You’ll receive a personal fundraising page and support throughout your training.
      • You’ll receive an exclusive SoleMates welcome packet with Girls on the Run gifts and a technical SoleMates tee.
      • You’ll receive a complimentary entry into the Girls on the Run of York 5K.

Girls on the Run is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.

In 2007 Sue Schmidt found a Girls on the Run flyer in California and thought it was a perfect fit for the mission of YWCA York. She wanted to bring this adventurous national program back to our community. YWCA/Girls of the Run of York began in 2008 with our first team being at North Hill Elementary.

Girls on the Run International was established in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina by Molly Barker. What started with thirteen girls in one school has grown to over 215 councils in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. To date, 1.6 million girls have participated in Girls on the Run. With the help of almost 100,000 volunteers, Girls on the Run serves nearly 200,000 girls annually. Girls on the Run continues to grow and currently hosts more than 350 end-of-season 5K events across the United States, making the Girls on the Run 5K series the largest in the country. Girls on the Run has also expanded to include middle school girls through Heart & Sole, a program dedicated to the unique needs of adolescent girls.

GOTR Core Values

  • 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.
  • LEAD with an OPEN HEART and assume POSITIVE INTENT.
  • NURTURE our physical, emotional and spiritual HEALTH.
  • STAND UP for ourselves and others

Our Results

A recent independent study led by Dr. Maureen Weiss, an expert in Positive Youth Development, found that Girls on the Run’s intentional life skills curriculum and highly trained coaches positively impact girls’ lives by helping them increase their self-confidence, develop healthy relationships and feel good about themselves.

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See the Highlights

  • 85% Improved in confidence, competence, caring, character or connection to others.
  • Girls who were least active at the start increased in physical activity by more than 40%.
  • 97% of girls said they learned critical life skills at Girls on the Run.
  • Sustained Impact: The study found that the life skills taught by Girls on the Run have a stronger effect on girls than those taught by traditional sports or physical education programs and positively changed girls during the 10-week program and beyond.

Get Involved

Seeing a girl activate her limitless potential is extraordinary. But being part of that transformation can be absolutely life changing. Get involved today and help change the life of a girl.

Make An Impact

Our Locations

  • Dallastown Intermediate
  • East York Elementary
  • Indian Rock Elementary
  • Kruetz Creek Elementary
  • Larry J. Macaluso Elementary
  • North Hills Elementary
  • Sinking Springs Elementary
  • Stony Brook Elementary
  • Trimmer Elementary
  • Lincolnway Elementary
  • Dillsburg Elementary
  • South Mountain Elementary
  • Hannah Penn K-8
  • Northern Elementary

To Start a Program Site:

To register as a new site, click here.

Things to consider when starting a new site: Can you?

  • Recruit three to four VOLUNTEER COACHES who must attend GOTR coach training.
  • Provide a safe, dedicated OUTDOOR SPACE for practice and running activities.
  • Provide a safe, dedicated INDOOR OPTION for inclement weather.
  • Identify TWO DAYS A WEEK for practices 90 minutes in length.


If you have additional questions about starting a program site, please contact Ruby Martin at 717-845-2631 or by email at rmartin@ywcayork.org.

Financial  Assistance Details

Our registration fee is $150.00, however without question we offer financial assistance to those in need based on household income and ask that a minimum of $25.00 be paid. Partial and full assistance is available to all girls, please use our sliding scale below as a guideline.

Online payment is with a credit card (Visa, Master Card, American Express, and Discover) or E-Check. For siblings, when $150 is paid for the first girl, subsequent sisters are eligible for a $25.00 discount. Coaches’ daughters please accept our appreciative registration discount. You pay only $100 for registration.

If additional assistance is needed, please contact Ruby Martin at 717-845-2631 or by email at rmartin@ywcayork.org.We never want money to be a reason not to join GOTR. All financial information is kept confidential.