Girls With Sole was founded in August of 2009 for pre-teen and teenaged females who need someone to believe in them, so that, they can believe in themselves. Many of the girls who participate in Girls With Sole programs begin with little or no interest in moving their bodies, and end with running a 5K race or other road race distances, or in some cases, a triathlon. The program offers girls the opportunity to learn and to enjoy fitness as they develop the physical and emotional strength needed to meet personal goals.
Founder, Liz Ferro, wanted at-risk girls, and those who have experienced abuse of any kind to be given a sporting chance in their lives, and to experience the “finish line feeling.”
Girls With Sole spawned and evolved organically from Liz Ferro’s own personal life experiences and her desire to help girls discover the empowerment that can be derived from athletics and fitness. Liz credits athletics for giving her the self-esteem and inner strength needed to overcome difficult times, including a childhood that exposed her to both foster care and to abuse.
Girls With Sole programming has been a community collaborative effort from the very start. We partner with social service agencies, schools, hospitals, juvenile attention facilities, and residential treatment centers to bring free fitness and wellness programs to the girls where they are. A few of our program partners include: The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center; Boys and Girls Club of Lorain; The Intergenerational School; Merrick House; MetroHealth; Bellefaire JCB; and the Multi-County Juvenile Attention System.
When we first began in 2009, Girls With Sole served four girls. By 2012 we have served roughly 450 girls, and continue to grow. It is our goal to be a national organization, with GWS chapters all over the United States, by 2018.
Most of the girls we serve would otherwise have no place to participate in sports or group exercise in a safe environment, or have access to any athletic programming. Many of them are being seen by counselors, therapists, or even dieticians, but have no physical outlets to expend negative energy in a positive manner-or to tap into the imperative mind, body, spirit connection.
Our programming has introduced a whole new world to many girls, and supplied them with the empowerment needed to discover who they are as an athlete and as a person, and to realize that nothing is impossible. Learning to set and accomplish goals, and developing their self-esteem creates a light that shines from within each girl that can lead them out of a dark place and into a bright future. At Girls With Sole we call this “Lacing Up for a Lifetime of Achievement.” (LULA)
In addition to our weekly programs, each girl receives a free pair of running shoes, sports bra, fitness journal, water bottle, and free entry in the road races they participate in. Focusing on healthy living, good nutrition, exercise and wellness helps the girls to make healthier choices in other parts of their lives and benefits the community as a whole.
Girls With Sole looks forward to continued growth and outreach, and to providing fitness and wellness programs to girls from coast to coast who want to Lace Up for a Lifetime of Achievement.
The Girls With Sole Logo Story
Liz Ferro, founder of Girls With Sole, explained the idea for Girls With Sole to her, then, 10-year old son, in hopes that he could help design a logo to represent the organization.
“I told him what Girls With Sole was going to be about and how it would help the girls.”
Ferro’s son took what he heard, sat down with a highlighter and drew what is now the Nationally Registered Trademark Girls With Sole logo- on his very first try!
Liz says, “It was as if he looked into my heart and drew what he saw!”