20 women and girls in Riverside County have more confidence and friends thanks to a new collaboration between two of the region’s leading youth empowerment organizations. This summer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Empire (BBBS) partnered with Girls on the Run Riverside County (GOTR) to launch a five-session, weekly camp for a select group of female matches in its community-based mentoring program.
The GOTR program underscores the important connection between physical and emotional health, strengthening participants’ confidence and friendship at a time when societal pressure can cause doubt and uncertainty for girls and women alike. At Camp GOTR x BBBS, mentors (Bigs) and their mentees (Littles) participated in physical activities and dynamic discussions to empower their confidence, encourage kindness, and build leadership and social skills.
Creating Connections at Camp
Delia Marin and nine-year-old Jayleen were one of the 10 matches selected to participate in this first-of-its-kind opportunity for Bigs and Littles. The two have developed an incredible bond over the last two years they have been matched, but Marin says that the connections they made with the other girls and women at Camp GOTR have really helped Jayleen come out of her shell.
When Marin shared with the group that Jayleen’s birthday landed on the last day of camp—and that her mother was going through financial hardship—all the Bigs came together to plan a surprise birthday party so Jayleen could celebrate with her new friends.
“My favorite part of this experience was looking at [Jayleen’s] smiling face every Saturday morning when I picked her up to go to the camp,” Marin said. “I enjoyed listening to her participate in the group activities, expressing herself and having so much fun with the other Little Sisters.”
Riverside Community Leaders Come Together to Support Young Women
The summer camp was funded by the Inland Empire Community Foundation (IECF) and Jennifer O’Farrell, Chief External Affairs Officer of BBBS. In March, IECF’s Women’s Giving Fund presented O’Farrell with its 2023 Woman of Achievement Award for her leadership in the local nonprofit sector and her advocacy for upward social and economic mobility within the framework of youth mentoring. IECF also awarded O’Farrell $2,500 to donate to her charity of choice, which she used to launch a partnership with GOTR.
“This partnership between Girls on the Run and Big Brothers Big Sisters makes us a formidable force of good for girls in our region,” O’Farrell said. “We are truly bigger together, and our collective efforts have made a lasting change on our mentors and the girls they mentor.”
Erin Munro, Executive Director of Girls on the Run Riverside County, said it was an honor to collaborate with BBBS to highlight the power of connectedness.
“This partnership celebrates our commitment to empowering young girls in the Riverside community,” she said. “Jennifer’s support allowed more girls to participate in our transformational programming, setting them up for a lifetime of meaningful connections to help them boldly pursue their dreams.”
About Girls on the Run
Founded in 2020, Girls on the Run Riverside County inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident through running-based programs. The curriculum used incorporates physical activity and social skill development to help girls develop life skills. GOTR has impacted the lives of over 500 girls throughout Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Programming is offered at public and private schools, community centers, parks, and faith-based locations. Girls on the Run is included as a top research-based program in a Social-Emotional Learning Guide developed by researchers at Harvard University and has been recognized by the National Afterschool Association (NAA) as one of the most influential after-school programs. To learn more, visit gotrriverside.org.