Girls on the Run comes to the Oklahoma City area

COMMENTARY — Running helped an Oklahoma City woman overcome weight and self-esteem issues. Now Leslie Littlejohn wants to help little girls in Central Oklahoma to win the same race through Girls on the Run.
by Jenni Carlson Published: January 23, 2013
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photo - 2012 Girls on the Run 5K. PHOTO PROVIDED
2012 Girls on the Run 5K. PHOTO PROVIDED

Littlejohn started her first Girls on the Run group two years ago at the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma City.

Last year, she moved the group to Horace Mann Elementary, where she teaches, and added a second group at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School in Edmond.

Eventually, she'd love a site to be available for every girl who wants to participate.

“I have mothers who contact me weekly wanting to get their daughters involved ... ” Littlejohn said, “and I just do not have teams or coaches available yet.”

She has big dreams for Girls on the Run, so big that she's leaving her teaching job later this year to focus all of her attention on the program. One day, she wants to have a hundred or more teams in the Oklahoma County area, which also includes Lincoln, Logan, Cleveland and Canadian counties.

Going from two to a hundred is a huge jump, and Littlejohn knows that it's a move that won't happen overnight. So, this year's goal is to expand to six teams.

To do that, she needs adults who are willing to help. Finding coaches is her biggest hurdle. If she has more coaches, she can have more groups for more girls.

And she believes more groups would be a great thing for girls who battle some of the same things she did.

Littlejohn was running with one of the girls during the program-ending 5K last spring. They were nearing the finish line when the girl turned to Littlejohn.

“You said I could do it,” the girl said. “I wasn't sure, but you were right.

“Now, I can do anything!”

Littlejohn is now a runner who is currently training for a half marathon. She has overcome all of those demons from her childhood, but she believes that had Girls on the Run been available when she was a girl, it would've helped her completely avoid body issues and self-esteem problems.

“I know that if I would have had the tools or heard some of the lessons from (Girls on the Run),”she said, “I would have been better about making choices that made me happy.”

She wants Oklahoma girls to have an opportunity that she never did.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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