RIDGEFIELD — Twice a week after school, the View Ridge Middle School track fills with girls walking, jogging, and running toward achieving their personal goals. The now-familiar scene is part of Ridgefield School District’s community education class, “Girls Run the World.” Teacher Anja Felton designed the class to empower girls by helping them build confidence and strength — both mentally and physically.
Participants don’t have to run, but they do have to keep moving. While the class involves exercise, it also offers fifth- through eighth-graders a broader definition of health and fitness.
Before the students step on the track, they start in the classroom with an idea or activity that might help guide them toward positive change. Previous lessons have included nutrition, self-care, journaling, and the potential impacts of social media on self-esteem. Felton hopes the students will learn to feel good about themselves and how to handle stress and anxiety in healthy ways.
Felton reminds them to think about their goals as they walk or run. “Work toward those,” she says, “so that at the end of class, you can feel good about what you’ve accomplished.”
“I want these girls to know how good it feels when you accomplish some running,” Felton said. “I want them to feel good in their own skin.”