We truly appreciate each Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP) partner. They play a significant role in our ability to meet our mission and the missions of our six neighborhood conversion charter schools. Each, especially our overarching partner, Baltimore City Public Schools, is integral to the success of BCP students, faculty/staff, and parents. 

This month, we celebrate Girls on the Run of the Greater Chesapeake (GOTRGC) and its more than 10-year partnership with BCP schools, including Govans Elementary, City Springs Elementary / Middle, Hampstead Hill Academy, Pimlico Elementary/Middle, and Wolfe Street Academy.

Who is Girls on the Run?

Girls on the Run of the Greater Chesapeake (GOTRGC), says Kelly Makimaa, the nonprofit’s executive director, “is so much more than running or physical movement. Our program builds self-awareness and teaches the importance of healthy relationships. Self-awareness and confidence are critical at this age prior to adolescence.”

As part of an international organization that has chapters across North America, GOTRGC meets this mission by combining experience-based lessons the girls can relate to with physical movement. It’s the only national physical activity-based, positive youth development program of its kind that includes a curriculum, trained coaches, and a commitment to serving all girls.

GOTRGC highlights the critical connection between physical and emotional health, by empowering adolescent girls to build healthy physical and mental habits that last far beyond school. The program strengthens the girls’ confidence while they foster care and compassion for themselves as well as others, through lessons designed to enhance their social, psychological, and physical skills and behaviors. Through it all, they learn to successfully navigate life through the development of their competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution.

GOTRGC currently works with over 2,500 third grade through eighth grade girls annually, in Baltimore City and 11 surrounding counties.

GOTRGC and BCP Schools

Govans Elementary and Hampstead Hill Academy (HHA) have had GOTRGC programs for about eight years, with girls in third, fourth and fifth grade participating. Students register directly with GOTRGC and are accepted through a lottery. There is a program registration fee to take part, but GOTRGC also offers financial assistance to participants to ensure program access.

The program meets two days each week, after the school day ends, for 75-90 minutes, with the girls completing curriculum lessons before they move to the physical activity portion. Topics in the curriculum include resolving conflicts, choosing friends, having empathy, expressing emotions, and being a good friend by standing up for others.

The trained coaches use the curriculum for the lessons, run/walk with the girls, and help keep a positive team atmosphere. According to the BCP GOTRGC coaches, takeaways for the girls who participate include a sense of community, spurred by the community-focused project they complete. These include setting up and running stations at school math and literacy nights, cleaning the school grounds, and writing positive notes to hang on lockers and for teachers.

Programs run each spring and fall for 10 weeks and culminate with a service project in their local community and a celebratory, non-competitive 5K run. The 5K event connects students from BCP schools with other schools that have GOTRGC programs.

According to Kiauna Makel, HHA social worker and GOTRGC HHA assistant coach, the program helps all the girls who participate. This includes some girls who may be more reserved. 

“Shy girls,” Kiauna says, “learn how to create sustainable relationships with peers as well as the idea [that] no matter what happens, keep moving forward, as they build their self-esteem, social skills, and physical and emotional endurance.”

Who are the GOTRGC BCP coaches?

Sara Kelley, third grade teacher, and Morgan Hay, second grade teacher, coach the Govans program. HHA’s speech and language pathologist Amanda Smith introduced the program to HHA, and Kiauna has been coaching with her since the fall of 2022.  

Sara has been a GOTRGC coach for 12 years. She began as an assistant coach at her previous school and started the Govans program when she joined the school. Sara continues to be involved in the program, “because the girls love it and ask for it. We have fun together and I get to learn more about the girls than I would in a typical school setting.”

Morgan began coaching at Govans three years ago. She joined for her love of running, the students and the program. “The girls teach me something new every practice. It is so heartwarming,” she says, “to watch them grow and develop their emotions and physical wellbeing. It keeps me coming back every season.” 

Per GOTRGC guidelines, each school must have at least two coaches each season.  Anyone can be a coach, whether they are on staff at the school or not. Potential coaches complete an application process, background check, training, and a CPR/AED first aid class requirement before they can become a coach. 

“Our coaches are the heart of our program,” Kelly says. “We’re truly honored to partner with BCP schools and the coaches each season to empower the next generation of leaders.”

Thank you, Girls on the Run Greater Chesapeake, for making a difference in the lives of BCP students! 

Learn more at gotrchesapeake.org.

About the Baltimore Curriculum Project

Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP) is the largest operator of local neighborhood, public charter schools in Maryland. We create safe, supportive learning environments for children PK-8 by providing innovative, research-based educational strategies, intensive teacher training and extensive support for administration and staff. We support our local neighborhood needs by tailoring our resources and support through community partnerships.

As one of the longest-running charter operators in Maryland, our schools are regularly recognized as some of the most highly acclaimed neighborhood charter schools in the state. 

Pimlico Elementary / Middle School

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