On the cold and windy morning of November 27, it came in the shape and size of a young girl from Syria named Mays. Along with 8 of her schoolmates from Bayshore Public School, she dug down deep to find the strength and the will to run her very first 5k.
Mays was one of the very first girls in Ottawa to participate in the new Girls on the Run program. The OSEG Foundation brought this afterschool program to our community in order to help young girls develop skills to live a joyful life. Along the way, they learn how to navigate difficult situations, to support one another, and most importantly, to value and love themselves.
I signed up to be a run buddy for the 5k. My job was to accompany one of the girls on her run, to be there to motivate and encourage her. Spending this time with Mays made it clear what a positive impact this program had on her. She told me that it was the first time she was given a chance to participate in an afterschool program. She told me how the girls all supported one another. She told me how much she loved sports and was happy that this program gave her a chance to do something she loved in an environment where she felt safe. And she spoke to me with such confidence.
After Mays received her medal and her certificate, she came looking for me so she could show me. The smile on her face, and the fact that she wanted to share her accomplishment with me, well… it melted my heart.
Because this is what all girls deserve. They deserve to feel the joy that comes with participating in sport. They deserve to be proud of themselves for accomplishing great things. They deserve to know that they are capable of anything they put their minds to.
Joy. Confidence. Resilience. That is what Girls on the Run means to me. That is what I hope it will continue to inspire in girls across the city. I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet Mays, and I can’t wait to take part in more 5k runs!
OSEG Foundation Community Cabinet Member
Girls on the Run Ottawa Advisory Committee Member
Girls on the Run Ottawa Run Buddy