NEW BUFFALO — The Pokagon Fund, a nonprofit private foundation supported by revenue from the Four Winds Casino, has committed to supporting Girls on the Run of Southwest Michigan, a physical activity-based positive youth development program for girls in 3rd through 8th grade with a $3,750 grant for the current season to fund participation at New Buffalo Elementary and River Valley Middle School.

Over the course of the 10-week program, they will develop their confidence, learn about building healthy relationships and participate in a community service project while becoming physically and emotionally prepared to complete a 5K (scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 16 at the Berrien County Fairgrounds in Berrien Springs).

“Active participation in sports helps young female students build self-esteem, understand the value of team work, relieve social and academic pressures and forge healthy relationships with other girls,” stated The Pokagon Fund Executive Director Janet Cocciarelli. “We are grateful to support this opportunity for our Harbor Country youth.”

“With the support of The Pokagon Fund, Girls on the Run is able to host programming for 21 girls at New Buffalo Elementary, and 13 girls at River Valley Middle School. Grants like these ensure Girls on the Run can continue to be accessible to every girl in our community. We believe in the potential of every girl, and look forward to partnering with community groups who share our vision for joyful, healthy and confident youth,” says Tess Carragher, Executive Director of Girls on the Run Southwest Michigan.

Teams from New Buffalo Elementary, River Valley Middle School, and many additional Berrien County schools will participate in the Girls on the Run 5K on May 16. With a focus on mastery rather than competition, the unique 5K offers a chance for girls to celebrate their accomplishments alongside their team and community supporters.

Girls on the Run of Southwest Michigan impacts the lives of nearly 1,000 girls in St. Joseph, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties each year. Through the help of generous foundations like The Pokagon Fund, individual donors and sponsors, scholarships are provided to 62 percent of program participants.

Girls on the Run is a national physical activity-based positive youth development program for 3rd-8th grade girls. Participants develop and improve competence, feel confidence in who they are, develop strength of character, respond to others and oneself with care, create positive connections with peers and adults and make a meaningful contribution to community and society.

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