Running club gives northeast Oklahoma City girls special space

Students at Martin Luther King Elementary School in Oklahoma City formed a girls running club and plan to participate in 5K races.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Modified: February 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm •  Published: February 8, 2013

Dowdell said she's aiming for the Redbud Classic in April.

But the point of the club isn't really racing. Dowdell talks to them about things other than running — etiquette, behavior, their problems.

“They tell me about their victories and their failures,” she said. “We just discuss a lot of stuff like that.”

The goal is to set lifetime habits, the teacher said.

“We are the mothers of the world. We're the ones who determine what our families look like,” she said. “When they grow up and they're healthy, their families are going to be healthy, too.”

Especially for the older girls, the club is also a chance to slough off the pressures of school and their peers, Dowdell said.

Girls start changing physically and emotionally in the fourth grade, and Dowdell said they withdraw in gym class. They worry the boys are looking.

“They don't want to jump so high any more, and they don't want to run so fast any more,” she said. “They're worried. I was trying to get these girls by themselves so they can feel free to be girls.”