The Other Side: Binghamton University helps young runners
Binghamton staff create Girls Run Our World
As director of special events and Commencement for Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger, Elisabeth Faughnan ’11, MAT ’12, is often on the run.
But each August for the past three years, Faughnan has taken time to help lead Girls Run Our World, which takes girls in grades four through seven through a program that builds strength, confidence and friendships. On the surface, it’s a running program. Deep down, it’s more.
“We focus on the physical part of running, but a lot of it is also the mental part of running, and the mental part of selfesteem and self-confidence,” Faughnan says.
The girls meet for about an hour and a half once a week for nine weeks. Each week there is a featured female speaker and a run.
Last year, Madeline Bay, deputy chief of police at Binghamton University, taught the girls some self-defense strategies.
“She shows the correct way to hit, punch and kick. The first practice, they’re all shy,” Faughnan says. “But by last practice, they’re boisterous and loud, yelling, ‘Can we do this? Can we do that?’”
At the beginning of the program, the girls might run a half mile. By the end, they’ve built the strength, stamina and confidence to participate in a local 5K race.
“It’s fun to see the progression from the first practice to the last,” Faughnan says.
The idea for Girls Run Our World came out of the leadership institute run by the Center for Leadership Studies at Binghamton. Assistant Athletic Director Linda Reynolds and ITS Communications Manager Logan Robinson brainstormed the idea and then brought Faughnan on board. This year, Faughnan is leading the program.
“We want to empower these girls to find confidence in themselves through running, through community and through a team, because running is such an individual sport, but it’s also a community,” Faughnan says.
Emphasizing community is important because the girls come from a variety of school districts and start out as strangers. “The three of us wouldn’t be friends without the running community,” Faughnan says, referring to Reynolds and Robinson. “That’s what brought all of us together.”