After six weeks of training, seven middle school students from Asbury Park proudly crossed the finish line of their first 5K race at the Girls On the Run event on June 6 in Fair Haven.

It was an exciting moment for each of the students and their Y coaches, who cheered them on from the sidelines.

“I came to prove that I can run the 5K race,” said 12-year-old Tatiana. “I am also here to be part of the team.” Tatiana achieved both on Saturday as she celebrated her achievement with her teammates after the race.

Jo Ann Rountree, the Y’s Senior Director of Outreach, said the Girls On the Run program blends physical activity with team building over the course of six weeks to help girls build self-confidence and develop lifelong healthy habits.

Girls On the Run International was established in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina to  empower girls to honor their bodies and voices, as well as their own individual power. While the program puts much emphasis on physical activity, it also focuses on the importance of women encouraging each other through a variety of team building activities. Girls on the Run accomplishes all of this by teaching girls ages 8-12 how to prepare for 5K races.

The Y was able to offer the Girls On the Run program to students at Asbury Park Middle School with support from the Junior League of Monmouth County and the Asbury Park Recreation Department.

The youth development program reflects the Y’s commitment to helping young people, particularly in low-income communities, bridge gaps that prevent them from accessing activities that encourage healthy lifestyles.

For more information about the program, e-mail jrountree@cymca.org.