Yoga, dance workouts help Girls with Sole participants prepare for 5K race
Published: Monday, May 06, 2013
MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL The Girls with Sole do yoga and dance Zumba and do other fun exercises each week for the 12 week program.
ELYRIA — Local girls are making friends, gaining confidence and gearing up for a 5K race after participating in the Girls with Sole program.
Girls with Sole is a 12-week wellness and fitness program designed to empower the minds, bodies and souls of pre-teen and teenaged girls who are at-risk or have experienced abuse of any kind. The goal of the program is to raise the confidence and self-esteem levels of girls to help them to reach their fullest potential.
The girls participating in the one-hour fitness sessions run, play volleyball, do yoga, dance Zumba and do other fun exercises to prepare for the upcoming Girls with Sole “LULA” 5K race June 9 at Beachcliff Market Square in Rocky River.
“The 5K race really just gives the girls a finish line for all the hard work they have put forth through the program,” said Liz Ferro, founder of Girls with Sole. “The lessons, confidence, and friendships built, however, last a lot longer than that finish line.”
The Girls with Sole Program is currently being featured at Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs around Lorain County. The program offers girls the chance to be active while developing the physical and emotional strength needed to achieve personal goals.
“Girls with Sole is fun. We get to do a lot of cool things and you don’t even realize you are working out,” said Jada Stephens, of Franklin Elementary School in Elyria.
Ferro is currently helping girls at the Elyria Boys and Girls Club have fun and get moving in preparation for the June 5 race.
“The majority of the girls did not know each other and were not physically active before participating in the program,” Ferro said. “Now the girls have more energy, are more focused, and have grown to be very accepting of each other.”
The girls participating in the exercise session come from various elementary schools around the county and range in age from 9 to 12 years old.
According to Ray Armstrong, director for the Elyria Boys and Girls Club, the response from the girls has been overwhelming, with many of them grateful and wishing the program lasted longer.
“My favorite thing about the program is that we get to let out our real selves,” Girls with Sole participant Ala-jeiah Milton said.
According to Ferro, the sessions are showing the girls that fitness can be an outlet to relieve some of the struggles girls face today.
Ferro, a victim and survivor of foster care and child abuse, stated that she used fitness and athletics as a way of gaining confidence, self-esteem and inner strength through her own difficult times.
“I wish there was a program like Girls with Sole when I was younger to get me through tough times,” Ferro said. “Girls with Sole is my way of giving back. I’m just trying to show girls everywhere that we are a team, we are strong, and we don’t have to face life’s struggles alone.”
Ferro is an author, recipient of the 2012 Longines Women who Make a Difference Award, and a competitive triathlete working toward inspiring girls everywhere to find their inner strength in the face of adversity.
“Girls in Lorain County are very lucky to have Liz Ferro as an inspirational leader,” said Kathleen Kern, associate director of the Lorain County Board of Mental Health who helped bring Girls with Sole to Lorain County. “She is nationally recognized and is a great role model for the girls.”
One of the most fascinating aspects about Girls with Sole is the collaborative effort that has occurred locally to bring the program to Lorain County. The Medical Mutual Foundation of Ohio and the Lorain County Board of Mental Health have partnered to fund the staff necessary to hold the program and registration for the girls to participate in 5K races.
The Community Foundation of Lorain County provided the girls with sports bras needed for group participation while running shoes were provided by Lori Campana. Bellefaire JCB and Guidestone mental health clinicians also offered support to the girls participating in the program.
“When there was a gap needing to be filled, someone was always willing to step up to make this program possible,” Kern said. “Our goal is to continue to collaborate so that we can keep inspiring young women to set goals and achieve them.”
For more information about the Girls with Sole Program, call Liz Ferro at 668-1509 or visit www.girlswithsole.org.