Girls on the Run Hampton Roads: Instilling Joy, Health and Confidence

Girls on the Run Hampton Roads Brighton Elementary School team
Brighton Elementary School’s Girls on the Run Hampton Roads team members enjoy a photo opportunity with their Portsmouth coaches.
Most students can’t wait to get out of school. But not nine-year-old Nicole Fullerton.

She loves Mondays and Tuesdays when she gets to stay late for Girls on the Run Hampton Roads at Brighton Elementary School in Portsmouth. The program is fun and teaches her and 10 other Brighton girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.

The Brighton team is among 54 Girls on the Run Hampton Roads teams serving more than 750 elementary and middle-school girls in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, York County, Williamsburg, Isle of Wight and Southampton County. Since 1996, Girls on the Run Hampton Roads has worked with more than 12,000 area girls.

In 2017, the Hampton Roads Community Foundation awarded a three-year $60,000 grant to expand the 12-week program to five schools that receive federal Title I funding. Running is among the activities that teach teamwork and problem-solving and encourage girls to have healthy lifestyles that help prevent chronic disease.

To celebrate its 12,000th girl milestone, 12 girls, including Nicole, were selected as GoTo Girls, who represent Girls on the Run at events throughout the year.

Nicole Fullerton
Nicole Fullerton represents Girls on the Run at events throughout the year as a GoTo Girl.

Tabitha Kirkland, Nicole’s coach, isn’t surprised Nicole is a GoTo Girl. Known as “Nice Nicole” by her teammates, Nicole “is a mediator, gets along with every girl and works well with others,” Tabitha says. Tabitha is Brighton’s librarian and was instrumental in bringing Girls on the Run to the school after her daughter – a fourth-grader at Centerville Elementary School in Virginia Beach – participated in the program last fall.

“I saw the impact the program had in building character in girls,” Tabitha says. She worked to bring the program to Brighton to provide a safe outlet for girls to embrace healthy lifestyles and develop social skills in a non-competitive environment before heading to middle school.

Each Girls on the Run Hampton Roads semester culminates with a celebratory 5K run at Virginia Wesleyan University. As a GoTo Girl, Nicole leads the countdown to start the races.

Nicole, who wants to be a police officer, is happy she joined Girls on the Run. To other girls who may be interested in joining she says, “You can do it, girls!”

Learn more about Girls on the Run Hampton Roads' program at Brighton Elementary School in this video.

If you would like to volunteer to be a running buddy, visit Girls on the Run for more information.

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