In 2001, Girls on the Run International contracted with Rita DiGioacchino DeBate, Ph.D., MPH, CHES, to perform a formative impact evaluation. She performed the evaluation in 2002 and 2005. The evaluation assessed the Girls on the Run program and how well it met stated objectives by using a pre-test/post-test that measured attitudes towards physical activity, self-esteem, eating attitudes, body image and communication. Dr. DeBate is an Associate Professor in the School of Community and Environmental Health at Old Dominion University.
Prior to running that pilot, Dr. DeBate’s review of the academic research in the area of girls and sports turned up two contradictory results. On the one hand, girls involved in athletics have higher self-esteem and engage in fewer risky behaviors than girls who are not. On the other hand, girls who become highly competitive in some sports (such as running, figure skating, gymnastics and other sports in which slim body images are admired) have a higher incidence of eating disorders than girls who are not involved in such sports. This poses a dilemma that – after running our evaluation – Dr. DeBate believes the Girls on the Run curricula may solve.
Through the evaluations, Dr. DeBate found that our curricula improve girls’ self-esteem, body size satisfaction, and physical activity behaviors to a statistically significant extent. Also noted were positive changes regarding attitudes towards physical activity, health behaviors, and empowerment.
-Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2011 (pdf)
Changes in Psychosocial Factors and Physical Activity Frequency AmongThird toEighth-Grade Girls Who Participated in a Developmentally Focused Youth Sport Program: A Preliminary Study
-Journal of School Health, 2009 (pdf)
A formative evaluation of Girls on the Run (GOTR) with respect to spring 2006 program implementation included evaluative data from 293 GOTR participants.* Of these participants, 282 reported their age, with the average age being 10.47 (SD = 0.984) years. Approximately 7% of participants reported being 8 years old or younger, followed by 16.4% reporting their age as 9 years old, and 79.2% reporting their age as 10 years or older. The majority of participants reported themselves as Caucasian (74.1%) and approximately 15.8% reported themselves as being African-American, 3.9% as Latino, and 6.2% as “other.”
A formative evaluation of Girls on the Run (GOTR) for spring 2005 included evaluative data from 157 GOTR participants. Of these participants, 144 reported their age, with the average age being 10.25 (SD = .94) years. Approximately 38% of participants reported being 10 years old followed by 29% reporting their age as 11 years old, and 24% reporting their age as 9 years old. The majority of participants reported themselves as white (65.6 %) and approximately 34% reported themselves as being African-American, Asian, Latino, or “other”.
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