Maddi Wallace sits as Annabel Lien runs past her telling her one positive word that describes her during practice for Girls on the Run at Kyrene de la Sierra on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

[David Jolkovski/AFN]

Girls on the Run, a Valley nonprofit organization, will be hosting its ninth annual 5K run, celebrating their fall graduates and raising awareness on ways of combating bullying.

Meagan Kukowski, executive director, said each of the participants, in third- to eighth-grade, undergo a 12-week program where they’re given an interactive curriculum integrating physical training exercises twice a week to prepare them for the 5K run.

Integrating of running allows the promotion of physical, emotional, mental and social health into each of the young girls’ lives.

The 5K run also poses as a fundraiser for Girls on the Run, giving them the opportunity to not turn away any girl interested in getting involved with the program.

Members of the community are invited to join in on the 5K run, where each participant is asked to pay a $35 registration fee that goes to funding the Girls on the Run program.

“All the girls across the Valley come together along with running buddies, families and members of the public to complete the 5K and celebrate all they have accomplished throughout the season,” Kukowski said. “It’s a morning of positive energy, inspiration and these girls learn that they really can accomplish what seemed impossible is possible.”

Girls on the Run also focuses on combating bully by teaching each of their girls various aspects of bullying which include using appropriate behavioral and communication measures to assist them with standing up for themselves, the affects gossiping can have and how to diminish it from spreading, and what measures should be taken if bullying is being witnessed.

One of the runners, Elise Kingston, a fifth-grader at Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School, has been a part of Girls on the Run since she was in third grade.

Her mother, Suzanne, took over the Colina Girls on the Run program last year and says it’s a great way for young girls to encourage one another and become team players.

“My daughter says all the time that she learns that she can be herself.”

The Girls on the Run 5K event will take place Saturday, Nov. 23 at Kiwanis Park, 5500 S. Mill Ave., from 7 to 8:30 a.m.

For additional information about Girls on the Run, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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