Originally published Tuesday, September 3, 2019 at 11:02a.m.

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — As soccer practice heats up and coaches call out instructions across the Grand Canyon School field, another group of young athletes is circling the track.

Girls in third through fifth grades are participating in Girls on the Run, a program designed to help young girls develop lifelong healthy habits and self-esteem through a running-based curriculum.

Sandy Angat, who has coached the Grand Canyon team for several years, said the team has eight to 10 girls right now and could get as many as 15 through the season.

"We've got some real runners this year," she said, pointing a group of girls sprinting around the track.

The team practices after school every Tuesday and Thursday, culminating in a 5k run in Flgastaff in November. According to the Girls on the Run website, completing the 5K gives the girls a tangible understanding of the confidence that comes through accomplishment as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals.

Through the program, girls are able to develop important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences. Lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development, and participants explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at this age.

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