Program gets young girls moving

A Seymour woman made the decision about five years ago to start running as a way to get back into shape after the birth of her third child.

Since making that decision, Rayna Barr has run a full marathon and several half-marathons.

For Barr, running is something that just works.

“For me, I see results when I run, and I love the way it makes me feel when I finish,” she said.

Barr now wants young girls including her 7-year-old daughter, Bailey, to experience the same feeling.

That’s the reason she agreed to coach any girl ages 8 to 13 in Jackson County wishing to participate in the Girls on the Run program.

That after-school program begins at the end of March and will culminate with the girls participating in the Foundation For Youth’s annual 5K run June 7 in Columbus. The Jackson County team, along with girls from Brown County, will participate as members of the Bartholomew County Girls on the Run chapter.

The girls will meet from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays each week at Girls Inc., which agreed to help organize the program for the Bartholomew County chapter.

Jen Shaver, community health and fitness director for the Foundation For Youth in Columbus, said the eventual goal is to see the program grow to the point where each elementary school in Jackson County is involved.

The program is offered twice a year in Bartholomew County and now serves more than 350 girls.

“We would love to see many more girls have access to this program,” Shaver said.

She said one of the challenges of increasing participation is finding coaches.

In Jackson County, Barr will be assisted by Dana Huber, although if the goal of 20 girls is exceeded additional volunteer coaches will be sought, she said.

Besides the physical aspect of the program, participants will have class sessions were they receive information about how to improve their self-esteem, confidence building and how to resolve issues with others.

The 12-week program features a different topic each session. Other topics might include being grateful, managing emotions, picking friends, bullying and nutrition.

Barr said she didn’t have help with some of those issues when she was growing up, and that’s another reason she has agreed to coach the team.

“I want to be a role model for my daughter and teach her about staying active and being healthy,” said Barr, who also has two older boys.

Barr said you don’t have to be a runner to participate in the program.

“We will work with you to make you a runner,” she said.

The deadline is April 10 and the cost is $50. Some scholarships are available for those who don’t have the money to register or don’t have running shoes.

Applications will be sent to local schools in the coming days. They also will be available at Girls Inc. in Seymour and online at or call the foundation at 812-372-7867.

Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7051.