A special program for girls in grades 3rd through 8th is headed to Shreveport. Girls on the Run-Shreveport Council Director Beth Ann Menger says more than $8,000 has been raised for start-up costs, but she's actively seeking interested schools, volunteers and contributors.

The program, with locations in more than 200 cities across the U.S. and Canada, is designed to inspire every girl to be joyful, health and confident through a fun, experienced-based curriculum. Menger says it's about more than just running.

"Girls meet after school twice a week for 12 weeks, and they have lessons," she says. "The way the lessons work is they help to build self-esteem and confidence. And through that, they do running activities and by the end of the 12 weeks, they're able to complete in a 5K race.

Menger says the race is non-competitive, and many of the girls actually end up hanging back and wait on their friends to finish the race with them. She says it's the most inspiring thing she's ever seen in her life. "Every girl is filled with so much pride and happiness, it was as if they had just won the New York Marathon," she says. "For the girls, the impossible had become possible."

The first eight lessons focus on helping the girls find out what's unique about themselves, which Menger says is often difficult for that age group to do. The next eight lessons are about how to work together. They're focused on peer pressure and gossiping and other topics that come up for that age range. "Especially in those middle school years, those are tough years," Menger says. "And so to be able to react to things like gossip in a positive way, instead of a negative way, is really important. So we really stress that in second half of the season."

The program should be ready for Shreveport schools this coming January. If you want to help out, or get more info, visit the Girls on the Run Facebook page.