The Fit for Girls Story
Fit for Girls started as the seed of an idea around a table of friends. It has since quickly grown from one small team in March of 2010 to programs at two West Sacramento campuses and 21 girls running a 5k race at the end of their season in May 2011.
There’s a picture of a girl who just finished the No Excuses 5k race in May 2011. She’s with her dad. Her dad didn’t think she’d be able to finish. In the picture, both of them beam smiles: the girl so excited that she finished the race, and the dad nearly in tears because his daughter proved him wrong.
This story, and many others like it, sum up the heart and soul of Fit for Girls. It also sums up the heart and soul of the organization’s founder and executive director, Kellie Haynes.
Fit for Girls is uniquely designed for middle school girls and Kellie developed the program based on some of her own middle school memories. As the oldest of four with an alcoholic mother, Kellie says school became a refuge for her — the one place to get away from home.
“A big driving force for me is that I get what a lot of girls are going through at that age,” she says. “Not that I think I can save a girl, because that’s grandiose thinking. But I want to provide a place for girls to be told, ‘you are okay; you’re worth being loved; you’re worth taking care of yourself,’ and to shed the negative stuff. Even if they have a good family life, between school and media, they still get negative images of themselves a lot of the time.”
It wasn’t until her doctor said to her, “You know it is okay to take care of yourself,” that Kellie, a non-runner, started running. She got herself a personal trainer, lost almost 20 pounds and joined Team in Training. She ran her first marathon in 2004.
For Kellie, running a marathon is one of those things she never thought she could do. It took day by day perseverance, setting small goals, celebrating “firsts” and regular encouragement from her TNT coach to accomplish what she thought was impossible.
Crossing that finish line was an empowering and life-changing experience that Kellie used in other aspects of her life, like finishing her master’s degree. There were times toward the end of grad school, she says, that she would tell herself, “I ran 26 miles. I can do this.”
As part of their P.E. classes, middle school girls have to get used to running a mile, but the first time they go more than a mile is a big deal. It’s that sense of empowerment Fit for Girls seeks to instill in girls who may feel defeated, victimized, or just need a more positive self-image.
“I want to give the girls something they can experience and transfer to their lives,” says Kellie.
Not only does Kellie bring her personal experience to Fit for Girls, but she has recruited seasoned educators and athletes to be on the board of directors. Many of the organization’s board members have teaching credentials plus a master’s degree in instruction and writing educational curriculum. The board also includes a nutritionist and elite runners.
After having previously taught in West Sacramento schools, Kellie has been able to leverage her relationships with teachers and principals and get Fit for Girls on the campuses of Stonegate, Bridgeway Island and Elkhorn Village Elementary K-8 Schools. Fit for Girls also recently added a once-a-month Saturday workout and a second coach, who is a nutritionist and who also comes to each school’s workout every other week.
Future plans for Fit for Girls include bringing on enough coaches to expand the program to all campuses in West Sacramento and then into other school districts in the Sacramento region.
Fit for Girls started as just a seed of an idea. Through the continued support of friends, colleagues and the community, Fit for Girls strives to fulfill its mission of improving the health and well-being of adolescent girls and encouraging them to Live. Dream. Move.