MARYLAND (WJZ) — More than 1,000 girls laced up Sunday morning for a 5K, but the message went beyond the finish line.

It was a day full of empowerment, and a moment the girls had trained weeks for.

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“We coach the girls to become more confident, healthy individuals.” said teacher Melissa Caltrider.

It’s all part of the Girls On The Run, a national nonprofit that helps young girls boost their confidence through physical activity.

Executive director Jessamine Duvall said every season they work with dozens of girls who set the goal of completing a 5K.

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“For many girls, it seems like something impossible to achieve so over time they slowly run more and more, sort of a couch to 5k program and then at the end they do it they cross the finish line and realize wow I can do something really hard if I put my mind to it.” Duvall said.

The program is specifically designed for girls from third grade to eighth grade and it’s a 10 week after school program that meets twice a week.

But it’s more than just running, Duvall said the nonprofit provides life lessons the girls can use every day.

“Along the way we teach them things like managing emotions and stress, conflict resolution, have set goals all good stuff they can use later in life.” Duvall said.

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Girls On The Run has served Howard and Carroll County for almost 10 years and has made an impact on the lives of over 15,000 girls.

Kelsey Kushner