Molly Barker: Lace Up Your Running Shoes

July 6 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: Staying True to Yourself

Shh! Do you want to hear the secret to getting a beach body? Here it is: Have a body and go to the beach. It’s as simple as that, but it’s harder to get in that frame of mind. I usually RSVP “no” to pool parties and, like many women, I have never felt supremely confident strutting around in a swimsuit. But it’s time to change all that.

Today, think about three things you appreciate about your body. They can be superficial (For example, I’m a fan of my eyes.), or they can be matter-of-fact, like hey, it’s pretty cool that I can use my arms to give someone a hug.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 17.7 Percent

I’m not going to lie, when my doctor asks me how often I workout, I definitely inflate my answer. Even as an adult, it’s hard to walk into a gym and not compare yourself to seemingly athletic superstars. But do you remember what it was like in high school? Even more intimidating!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 17.7 percent of high-school girls say they are physically active at least 60 minutes a day, and only 24 percent say they attend P.E. classes daily. Of course, this is far less than the amount of time high-school boys say they are active.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Molly Barker, Founder of Girls on the Run

Molly Barker is a four-time Hawaii Ironman triathlete and the founder of Girls on the Run, a life-changing nonprofit program for young girls that mixes training for a 5K with interactive lessons on building self-confidence.

Barker started running with her mom at the age of 14 during a time when, like most of us at that age, she was battling self-esteem problems. And it was during her runs that Barker realized all her negative thoughts went away.

In 1996, Barker launched a business that aims to help girls untangle from the negativity that squishes their spirits during middle school, and Girls on the Run was born. She piloted the program with 13 girls in Charlotte, North Carolina. Today, Girls on the Run is offered in more than 200 cities throughout the U.S., reaching more than 200,000 girls and women. And it’s far more than a simple running club. It’s about setting a goal and achieving it, and using teamwork along the way.

In 2010, during an inspired TEDx Talk, Barker talked about being gifted a pair of red boots for her 50th birthday from her daughter. Barker thought they were a little wild for a woman in her 50s, but wore them nonetheless. After the red boots gained a following of their own, Barker having worn them to numerous public outings, including her TEDx Talk, thousands of people showed their support by sending her pictures of red boots. That gave her the self-assurance she needed to travel from Charlotte to Las Vegas and back, interviewing Americans about everything from politics and race to gender and religion. This was the catalyst to her new venture, The Red Boot Coalition, which works to provide safe places where people can engage in honest sharing and compassionate listening.

Barker has a few tips for entrepreneurs: Tell someone about your idea, find a mentor or objective pal who can tell it to you straight, and stay true to yourself. She hopes that by instilling these skills in girls, they will grow into confident women who take on leadership roles.

We can’t wait to see where Barker runs to next.


I’m sure Barker would agree with surfer Bethany Hamilton, who said:

“Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts: That’s what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

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