Glory Girls Run Club Combines 5K-training With Biblical-based Character Building

The Glory Girls Run Club at Kalamazoo (Mich.) Christian School ran its third 5K run May 17, closing off another season for the third- to fifth-grade program that combines training with a biblical-based, character-building curriculum.

Wes Gunst, a parent at the school who attends Third CRC in Kalamazoo, told The Banner about the positive impact on his daughters, who participated last year when they were in the fifth grade. Gunst has volunteered at all three of year-end running events.

“The club was started by a group of moms at the school who wanted to continue a ‘Girl’s on the Run’ type of program but taught from a Christian perspective,” Gunst said.

“We wanted to find encouraging ways to help young girls grow in their confidence, establish healthy habits, and enjoy running,” said Kendra Muller, one of four women behind Glory Girls Run Club who answered questions from The Banner about the group.

Recognizing research that indicates that more than half “of young girls have poor self-image by the time they are 13,” the Glory Girls creators wanted to lean on the benefits of running to “improve body image, increase self-worth, improve mood, and decrease stress,” said Amanda Deters, another of the program’s creators.

Jill Kirshman said, “We believe that things like mental toughness, perseverance, and teamwork translate to many aspects of life outside of running. It is our hope these skills stick with each girl as they grow older.”

Glory Girls began in 2022 with 60-70 girls participating each year. Teams of 15-20 girls meet after school twice a week for eight weeks, supported by volunteer parents and grandparents who “step up as coaches, helpers, snack providers, and 5K coordinators,” Kirshman said.

Kathryn Bouman, the fourth mom involved in creating the curriculum, said they designed it “to help the girls achieve a 5K while teaching values that align with their faith.” Each lesson starts with prayer and a devotional “and the workout incorporates the theme to help the girls apply and remember what they learned, while increasing their stamina and strength.” This year’s theme was “Perfect Peace” from Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

The end-of-season 5K event serves as a celebration for the participating girls. “It’s an opportunity for the girls to support one another in their accomplishments,” Muller said. Coaches run the final race with the girls, and “we often see siblings and parents participating” too.

The school also has a track club offered for boys and girls in grades one to five.

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