Girls on the run

After having to cancel its spring season due to COVID-19, Girls on the Run’s New Hampshire chapter is offering virtual sessions this fall.

The nonprofit organization provides a 10-week program to girls in grades 3 through 8 in all New Hampshire counties to empower them physically and emotionally. The program ends with a celebratory 5K race.

This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the online program will last only eight weeks, according to Program Director Betsy Cissel.

Some teams, including the one at the Keene Family YMCA, will try to start their season in person, if they are in a space where social distancing is possible, according to Cissel. If there are any issues, she said the coaches can simply transition the program online.

She added that the number of girls per team will also be smaller than normal — jumping down from 20 to 12 — to make social distancing easier, as well as to make the number more manageable for online sessions.

During a virtual session, the girls will meet twice per week for 45 minutes for their normal curriculum lessons. Participants will then be given a movement exercise to complete on one of their off days, usually lasting about a half hour.

“It’ll be a similar format [as in other years] ... the movement part will just be on their own,” Cissel said. “And even in the 45-minute sessions, it’s not like the girl is going to be staring at the screen. There will be loads of movement involved, such as stretching and games.”

The fall session — which starts the week of Sept. 14 — will end with a virtual 5K. An opening ceremony and stretch will be held online, and participants are encouraged to send in photos or videos of their race.

The program costs $115, but Cissel said there is financial assistance available for anyone who needs it.

Vermont’s Girls on the Run program does not offer a fall season, she said.

“People need something really positive to get behind these days, and girls, more than ever at this time, need a safe space to connect with their peers and to share and to feel connected,” Cissel said. “We are excited to be able to offer it to New Hampshire families.”

Registration for the fall program opens Aug. 24. Those interested can visit the organization’s website at girlsontherunnh.org/program-registration.