Meet Lety Stanton-Verduzco, a Girls on the Run board member. She’s been involved for over 5 years and embodies the GOTR spirit. Read her Q&A to get insight into her experience with the program!
How did you get involved with Girls on the Run? How has that developed over the years?
Just over 5 years ago a college friend of mine invited me to meet with some GOTR representatives. My friend is a teacher at Washington High School as well as one of the Cross-Country coaches. She wanted to put a GOTR site on the west side and thought Harrison Boys and Girls Club would be a great fit. I was all for the idea as I did not need to be sold on the importance of a program that helped create joyful, healthy and confident girls. However, I did not have the time or resources to make it happen at Harrison. The following year, I wrote it into a grant and we had our first team. My friend who first connected me, came on as a coach and is now on her fourth year as a GOTR coach at Harrison.
In these past 4 years, I have been a coach, a site liaison and for the last year, have served as board member. I love the program and all it offers to the youth in our area. It fits into the work I’m already doing. I haven’t missed a 5K since and am proud to see the excitement on the girls’ faces when they cross the finish line. It truly is a bright spot in the community.
Many coaches say the curriculum speaks not just to the girls, but to them as adults. How has GOTR influenced and empowered you?
For me, the curriculum spoke to me as I watched the girls experience it. As I helped lead practices with the other coaches, I couldn’t help but wish I had something like GOTR when I was the same age as the girls in the program. Even for the girls with the best support systems, it is beneficial to have a space to dialogue, ask questions and just grow with your peers. I hear myself using words and phrases that are from the curriculum when working with kids outside of GOTR because they apply in so many places and with so many different people.
What are practical ways that we can live the GOTR mission/core values in our everyday lives?
What I love about the core values of GOTR is that they all start with a verb. And when I think about GOTR I think about “doing”. In order to live out the core values and support the mission is by DOING. Just as in GOTR we tell the girls, we don’t care if you run, skip, walk to crawl as long as you keep moving. And I think this applies across the board. We become happy, joyful and confident people when we stick to our core values and it shows up in our day to day lives. The core values are universal, they can be applied outside of GOTR, and that is the point. The point as these young girls will become young women, and be able to apply what they learned into the real world so they can be joyful, happy and confident.
In what ways do you see the GOTR program energize and motivate those involved (girls, coaches, parents, etc.)?
I believe it gives all those involved a space for honest and productive expression. When people feel heard, they feel like they can “do.” The curriculum is amazing, but it’s only as good as the coaches present it. I think we do a great job of recruiting people who want to make a difference and are looking to inspire, and find they themselves, come out inspired. Parents who know little about GOTR on the front end, learn a lot throughout. By the time the 5K comes around, we see parents not just coming out to cheer their children but to run alongside them, and they too become a part of the experience, and they too come out inspired.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by all the strong women in my life. My mother, who makes me pick up a book instead of giving me the answer. My grandmother, who could make any house a home. My aunts, who were a part of the village that raised me. My best friend, who would drop anything she was doing, just to make sure I was okay. And to my wife, for being the most supportive partner, who shares in my values and gives herself to her work every day. These are the women who inspire me.
Thank you for all that you do Lety, you are amazing!