By Amaris Castillo

acastillo@lowellsun.com

DRACUT -- The first season of the Girls on the Run program for Richardson Middle School girls recently wrapped up with a positive impact on its participants, according to School Committee member Allison Volpe.

With the help of volunteer assistant coaches Christine Lord and Kristin Hayes, Volpe over the fall led 10 girls through Heart & Sole, a program that falls under Girls on the Run, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a world in which every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.

"I think it was very successful, and I hope the girls felt the same way," Volpe said of the program's inaugural season. "I definitely saw them connecting. I definitely see growth in my daughter. She knows that if she's really stressed out, she can go outside and take a walk or a jog."

Volpe's daughter, Hannah, said in a previous interview that she likes the program and seeing her best friend, Faith Carbonneau, who also participated.

"I like how I get faster every time," Hannah said.

The Girls on the Run Greater Boston End of Season 5K run, which the girls had been working toward through training sessions, took place Dec. 3 at Dedham High School.

"It was awesome. The girls were so great," Volpe said. "There were about 1,000 runners and almost 500 girls signed up, and the girls were so excited and I was so proud of them. They really did great.


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Though Girls on the Run has sites all over Greater Boston, program coordinator Kristen Bonito said this was the first time the organization branched into Dracut.

According to the Girls on the Run's website, the organization covers three areas for its participants: understanding themselves; valuing relationships and teamwork; and understanding how they connect with and shape the world at large.

Volpe said spring is tough when it comes to her schedule and the schedules of her assistant coaches, so the program will recommence next fall.

Before the 5K in Dedham, the girls had a practice 5K run and were cheered on by the Dracut High School track team. Volpe said the girls were so excited to have the support of the high-school student-athletes.

"That was the fastest I've seen them run the whole season," she said with a laugh.

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.