Running Toward Equity: Socioeconomic Diversity and Parental Perception of a Physical Activity-Based Positive Youth Development Program for Girls


physical activity
family interventions

How to Cite

Eyler, A., Parrish, L., & Gierbolini, R. (2024). Running Toward Equity: Socioeconomic Diversity and Parental Perception of a Physical Activity-Based Positive Youth Development Program for Girls. Journal of Healthy Eating and Active Living, 3(3), 124–133.


The Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a national positive youth development program to promote self-confidence, resilience, and self-esteem for girls through physical activity. It also includes an opportunity for parent involvement in a 5K event at the end of the program. Given the evidence on the importance of family support and parent role modeling for children’s physical activity, the purpose of this study was to explore how parents from different socioeconomic backgrounds view their daughters’ participation in GOTR and their own attitudes toward physical activity. Parents were recruited from high and low resource sites for participation in online focus group discussions. Questions included perspective on their daughter’s participation in GOTR, their own physical activity, and participation in the GOTR 5K event.  Discussions were recorded, transcribed, and thematically analyzed from two focus groups with parents from low resource sites (N=10) and two with parents from high resource sites (N= 15).  A common theme across resource groups was that GOTR enhances self-confidence, communication skills, and physical activity. More parents from the high resource sites reported being physically active and having supportive environments than low resource site parents. While some parents noted intention to participate in the 5K with their daughter, more parents in the low resource group reported barriers to physical activity and participating in the 5K event. There is an opportunity to encourage and facilitate parental 5K participation to create a ripple effect for benefits of the GOTR program.


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Copyright (c) 2023 Amy Eyler, Loni Parrish, Raul Gierbolini