What obstacles are you facing? Seems like a simple question to ask a group of young teens. During our Overcoming Obstacles lesson at the Heart & Sole team I coach, I asked that very question. There was the typical awkward silence that you often find when you ask questions to a team. After a period of time, I looked down at my curriculum for ways to rephrase the question or to review the helpful prompts and suggested responses. As I was about to speak, one of the girls on my team said….
“Pssst….girl, let me tell you about obstacles. I am a black girl in a white school and the kids say my name is a terrorist group”. As you can imagine, this brought about even more awkward silence. In way of a disclaimer, when I am faced with stressful situations, I tend to become even more sarcastic than normal. I simply replied…. “Wait….what, you’re black?” There was a roar of laughter and Yssis (pronounced Isis) just said “girl you be trippin’, you know I’m black. You are my favorite white person”.
Words escape me when I try to share this precious moment in my life. How precious and rare it is to find yourself in a safe and real place. Our time together was just that! The conversation that followed was nothing short of miraculous. This team of girls and their coaches were able to jump right over the obstacle or walls that we put up around ourselves. The girls sat and laughed and cried together as we each talked about the obstacles we face and the team helped each other find a way to overcome those …… together!
The obstacles this team faced are overwhelming when listed; racial discrimination, clinical shyness, obesity, religious struggles, financial struggles, depression and self-harm. As a child of the 70’s I remember my biggest obstacles being not enough time to ride my bike before dinner, which friend to play with and homework. The girls I coached are facing trials beyond compression and they are doing it with grace, strength and support from their team.
As an adult, I have a much more complicated list of obstacles that I am facing…. How I miss the 70’s me! By allowing myself to be part of a team of girls and women, I have found a source of strength that helps and empowers me to continue to leap over challenges that come my way. Those precious moments with a team of silly young teens are forever cemented in my heart and I know that my life will forever me changed because of a few afternoons with my team!
Girls on the Run International and Say It Forward are committed to the empowerment of girls everywhere. We believe that every girl has an important story to share – a story of determination and perseverance, a story that can inspire others to overcome the self-limiting beliefs that keep them from reaching their fullest potential. We are also committed to empowering the women who invest their time and energy in these girls.
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