Meet Kaelynne – A Girl on the Run

With a bit of encouragement from Ms. Natalie, Resident Services Coordinator at Lincoln Way, Kaelynne decided to give Girls on the Run a try. Focused on girls in grades 3-5, Girls on the Run is an 8-week program focused on developing character and preparing each participant to run a 5K.

The first day they met was a little awkward as girls arrived and gathered in a circle on a gray and rainy day. They met their instructors and volunteers from the University of Washington-Bothell’s Community-Based Learning and Research Program. After an ice-breaking activity, they learned about the Girls on the Run program.

The program is not just about training for a 5K, it also incorporates engaging activities focused on social and emotional learning, as well as fun games encouraging setting and meeting physical goals. The girls would bond over journaling exercises, brainstorming sessions, running, and other less demanding activities.

Up to this point, Kaelynne only ran in her P.E. classes. She said, “running was never something I considered doing for fun.” At first, she doubted her ability to run a 5K or 3.2 miles. But with the passing of each week, she gained more confidence. “We focused on adding and perfecting a new mile every couple of weeks. We would journal how we were feeling and discuss any obstacles in our way, and then we would socialize and get to know each other,” she said.

Before she knew it, Kaelynne and the other nine girls in the program were running faster and farther than they ever thought possible. As the program neared its end, she and her friends felt prepared to join other girls throughout the Puget Sound at the Girls on the Run 5K.

With an enormous crowd assembled, Kaelynne ran, representing Lincoln Way. When she crossed the finish line, she felt accomplished and proud of herself for achieving such a monumental goal. As for her future, she wants to keep running, and maybe try out for the volleyball team.

More Than Volunteers, Meet the University of Washington-Bothell Community-Based Learning and Research Program

Hosting the Girls on the Run program at Lincoln Way Apartments would not be possible without the support of volunteers from the University of Washington-Bothell Community Based Learning and Research (CBLR) Program.

The CBLR program connects the University of Washington students to community-based opportunities where their classroom work intersects with the real world. In 2019, students initially began working with Mercy Housing Northwest residents, creating budgets, and planning financially for the future.

In 2020, Layla Taylor, CBLR Program Manager, worked with MHNW Resident Services staff to take part in volunteer opportunities focused on physical and mental health. Around this time, Mercy Housing Northwest began the Girls on the Run program at Lincoln Way apartments.

“2020 was challenging for our Health Studies students volunteering at Mercy Housing,” said Layla Taylor. “Because of the pandemic, they conducted a lot of the volunteer work remotely. In 2021, we could transition back to in-person programming. This meant our students could be present and available to girls taking part in the program.”

Layla added, “With the Girls on the Run program, our Health Studies students found a valuable opportunity to apply what they have learned,” said Taylor.

“My hope is the girls see a role model, someone who looks like them from their communities and who has pursued higher education. More than running and staying physically fit, I hope our students can inspire while they learn.”

We want to thank Layla Taylor, the University of Washington-Bothell, and the student volunteers for their countless hours spent with the families and girls of Lincoln Way. It is often said because it is true; it takes a community, and we are grateful for our partners in this work.