Making a Difference | "Girls on the Run" program

Young ladies who have been participating in the "Girls on the Run" program in the capital area will conclude with a 5K, but as I found out when I did a Making a Difference report two years ago – “Girls on the Run” is so much fun, but is also potentially life-saving.

You can forget you're talking with a 13-year old when you listen to Nicole Sanna speak.

"Part of life is interacting with others and I think it's important you do that every time you can," Sanna said. “Over the summer, I wanted to look good in a bathing suit, so I exercised too much and ate too little. "

But Nicole is very much a young teenager, affected by body image concerns like most girls her age.

That’s what led her to seek treatment for an eating disorder.

She was diagnosed with anorexia back in August of 2016.

"I was in treatment and I got discharged in December, so then I started "Girls on the Run" and it helped me with some strategies for when I'm stressed and stuff," Sanna said.

Nicole was one of 11-hundred elementary and middle school girls who completed the 5k this past Saturday at Giant Center in Hershey.

We caught up with her after the race, surrounded by her East Pennsboro Middle School teammates for support.

It took bravery to share such a personal story, but it will no doubt help many others.

"Her story is really powerful and she's just been so courageous in growing and acknowledging that she can get through this with the support of her team behind her and the courage to come and share her story and hopefully have an impact on another girl who may be experiencing something similar," GOTR Council Director Gillian Byerly said.

In fact, Byerly and Tina Nixon of Pinnacle Health, the event's presenting sponsor, both agree that “Girls on the Run” is instrumental in helping to prevent tragic incidents like this incident two years ago at a Delaware middle school involving a fight that ended with the death of one of the girls.

"I think we need to teach our girls skills, give them the tools they need to interact when there's conflict, that they are able to resolve that conflict,” Nixon said. “I think we do that at an early age so we don't have incidents like that."

It was one of those tools that Nicole says helped her with her personal battle.

“One of the lessons we learned was when you want to make a decision, press pause, take a step back and just think about what's going on, so that, I think it helps me because I think it can help everyone when they're stressed out about something and they want to act in a bad way,” Sanna said. “I think you can take a step back and think is this a good way to get my stress or anger out?"

This year, the “Girls on the Run” Capital Area spring 5k is tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. at Hersheypark Stadium.

Jasmine Brooks and I have the honor and the pleasure of co-emcing this program.

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