Community

Everyday Heroes: Ely woman inspires girls to run, stay strong

Stephanie Johnson, Girls on the Run of Eastern Iowa volunteer
Stephanie Johnson, Girls on the Run of Eastern Iowa volunteer

Stephanie Johnson has been a runner most of her adult life. Or, as she puts it, as “on and off runner.”

She may tend to downplay her identity as a runner, but what she can’t deny is the impact it’s had on the College Community School District.

Prairie Creek Intermediate School’s Girls on the Run of Eastern Iowa program launched in the spring of 2015. Not only was it the first Girls on the Run program at the school, it was the first in the district.

“One of my co-workers completed a Girls on the Run 5K with her niece and said ‘We have to do this,’” said Johnson, a Girls on the Run volunteer and administrative assistant for the district’s learning services team.

Girls on the Run is a nonprofit empowerment program that works to encourage preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through interactive lessons and running games, culminating in a celebratory 5K run. As a coach, Johnson has worked with 275 girls, helping them discover their potential and celebrate their uniqueness, watching them blossom over 10 weeks of learning, goal-setting and, of course, laughing.

Girls on Run of Eastern Iowa may have the word “run” in its name, but the physical act isn’t the only thing this international program focuses on every season. With the help of volunteer coaches like Johnson, more than a million girls across the country have learned how to set and achieve goals while discovering their unique selves.

“It’s such a positive program,” Johnson said. “It was pouring down rain during our 5K last spring. It was so cold and miserable, but the energy I’ve come to attribute to this program was still there and everyone had a great time.”

About Everyday Heroes

Stephanie Johnson of Ely is nominated as an Everyday Hero for helping hundreds of girls develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through her work with Girls on the Run of Eastern Iowa. She and others are being featured in this occasional series honoring Everyday Heroes, presented by Fairfax State Savings Bank.

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