“Over the past few months, seven young women have had the opportunity to
participate in the Girls with Sole program, while completing their individual residential treatment programs at Bellefarie JCB. As early as the first session with Girls with Sole, there was a visible impact on the self-esteem of the girls participating. Ms. Liz Ferrero and her colleagues have been able to touch the lives of the youth they work with in a unique and invaluable way.
By working with Girls with Sole, the clients at Bellefaire have had a new avenue for learning about the importance of setting goals, supporting one and other, pacing themselves, and most importantly believing in themselves. For a few of the clients who were not athletically inclined, and even downright insistent about not giving the program a try, Girls with Sole has been an outlet for them to learn new skills and to thrive in a new and different way. One client in particular has identified Girls with Sole as a motivating factor in her life as it is the one thing during the week she looks forward to.
As mentioned, Girls with Sole makes an impact on these young women’s lives by giving them something positive and tangible to achieve for. Unlike their mental health treatment where the girls are making steps forward, but unable to see the subtle changes, with Girls with Sole these individuals can notice the changes they have achieved when they are able to run two laps instead of three.
Over the course of time the young women have been involved with Girls with Sole there has been a decrease in their destructive and aggressive behaviors, and an increase in their ability to encourage one and other. This program works with individuals who might not otherwise have an opportunity to interact at Bellefaire, and new support systems have been formed. The young women have begun learning the importance of working as a team in order to achieve individual goals and through this process have been able to apply the skills they are learning to other areas of their treatment and lives.
There is no question that Girls with Sole has made a difference in the lives of the young women it has worked with at Bellefaire. Through this program the girls have had a positive role model in Ms. Liz Ferro, have learned new skills, and have worked on improving their own self-confidence. Girls with Sole truly does teach its mission of empowering the minds, bodies, and souls of girls at-risk through fitness and wellness.”
KAITLYN L. KLINCSocial Worker, BELLEFAIRE, JCB
“The Salvation Army Community Mentoring Program is very happy to have found out about GWS. When I spoke to Liz Ferro, founder of the program, regarding what the mission of her program was; and found out that the focus was on physical fitness,eating healthy,self-esteem and the overall wellness of the body: it fit in well with what we wanted our girls in the mentoring program to have a chance to experience. Ms. Ferro has made a difference in these girls’ lives, I am so glad we partnered with GWS.
DALE JONESPROGRAM DIRECTOR, THE ELYRIA SALVATION ARMY
“As a teacher of the girls here at The Intergenerational School (TIS), I have witnessed many positive changes in our girls. For starters, they each treat each other with a great deal more respect. They work together as a team and encourage each other.
In the beginning of the program, the girls were reluctant to do any of the activities because most of them weren’t used to “physical activity” let alone running. After a few weeks of seeing how the GWS staff really motivated the girls with fun activities, the girls started to really WANT to do GWS. They are more excited and come ready with smiles. In the long run, they understand that being active and doing it with friends actually benefits their health and friendships.
They are a wonderful team of ladies and I thank GWS for bringing this program to our school and encouraging our girls every week!”
TELISSA TEETSJUNIOR CLUSTER TEACHER
“I am a mental health counselor with the Residential Treatment Center of Multi-County Juvenile Attention System in Stark County. We work with 13 to 18 year old girls who have been placed with us by the courts and/or Children’s Services anywhere from six months to one year. All of the girls we work with have been abused, suffered neglect, and have lived through multiple traumas and losses. Our girls feel that they have lost or have had taken from them any power and control in their lives. Being placed with us often identifies them as the problem. Our work is to provide counseling, life skills, schooling and the tools needed to send them back into their communities and to succeed, often on their own. This is no easy task.
The majority of our girls are runners by nature. They have run from abusive homes, the police and any and all problems. They have run to substances, other abusive relationships and prostitution.
When Liz came to us, not only did she bring fitness, liveliness, self-esteem and encouragement, she also brought a purpose to their lives. Now they have a reason to run the themselves in a healthy way. A way to reclaim the power and control they have been led to believe they don’t possess. Girls With Sole comes to our facility several times a month and offers our girls a change to dance, come together as a group, support one another, and above all, see first hand that they can overcome what has been done to them.
Our girls typically come to us with very little. Making sure they have life’s essentials is a battle in itself. Thanks to Liz’s efforts, they all now have brand new running shoes, sports bras, water bottles and treasures they have acquired from attending 5k’s that Liz has sponsored them for. We have been privileged to attend two 5k’s to date and one that we are looking forward to in November. All of our girls that have attended the 5k’s proudly wear their race shirts.
Not only have these experiences outside of the facility provided them with stuff, it has provided the girls with new experiences. They have been able to see a world outside of their own, where people are healthy, motivated, successful, friendly and encouraging. They experience support and a sense of belonging to something. When we attended the first 5k in June at Rocky River, many of the girls were simply giddy with excitement. They were amazed at all the activity surrounding them, the welcoming atmosphere and the achievement that they had completed a race. When we left that run, one girl commented that she couldn’t believe she’d had so much fun so early in the morning and that she didn’t have to be stoned to have a blast.
So, to Liz, I say thank you on behalf of our girls, Multi-County and myself. We are proud and privileged for you to be a part of all of our lives and thankful for the hope and joy you continue to bring. To all of you, I think you for making so much of this possible. Girls With Sole is truly a blessing to our girls.”
SUSAN M. BROWNRESIDENTIAL TREATMENT CENTER C WING COUNSELOR, MULTICOUNTY JUVENILE ATTENTION SYSTEM
“As the Director of the We Run This City YMCA Youth Marathon Program, I had the opportunity to work with Liz Ferro when she volunteered to be a running mentor and coach.
During that time she was paired with a twelve year old girl who was one of two kids that had chosen to run the Half Marathon instead of the one mile distance that the rest of the group would partake in on race day at the Cleveland Marathon.
Liz Ferro was a wonderful mentor and her energy and enthusiasm was both infectious and motivating. It was easy to see how much she cared that the child she mentored reached her goal, and that she wanted the encouragement she showed the child to continue to help her long after she crossed the finish line.
I am happy to say that that is exactly what happened. The young girl that Liz Ferro mentored is now in high school, doing very well in school and is still running today! The self-esteem and pride gained from programs such as We Run This City and mentors like Liz Ferro are invaluable to the kids in our community.”
TARA TAYLORWE RUN THIS CITY YOUTH MARATHON PROGRAM DIRECTOR
“When I first came here, Liz was just a person. I thought she was paid to come in here and do this with us, and then I read Liz’s book, and it gave me a way, way, way different perspective on her, and I think she’s one of the most powerful women I know in my life, because of what she’s endured and how happy she is now these days. So I look up to her and every single time I see her, I just look at her and study her, and think if she got through that stuff then I can, too, and I can change my life and break the cycle in my family.”
Girls With Sole Participant in RTC, Age 15
“My family life has been very tough. Both my parents were drug addicts, and my dad was really bad on crack, meth and heroin.
I’ve been locked up seven times. I do drugs, and I love to run away. I like to run away from my problems, and that’s what I want to change. I also have unhealthy relationships.
Every time I come to Girls With Sole, I mean, I have it on my calendar. Every week I get to come here, and have fun and just blow some stuff off, because it’s not easy here, at all. It’s hard to focus on yourself, and it’s hard to focus on working with what you had problems with because all the problems in here, I can’t run from them, so that’s why it’s hardest for me to be in here, because I like to run, and I can’t run from my problems. I have to face them….and we do projects that really gets me thinking about myself, because Liz really is a big self-motivator, so she makes me just change my outlook.”
GWS Participant in RTC, Age 16
“Before I came here I was at another placement, and I was there for about two years, and nothing new was happening. So my case worker decided I needed to go to a more strict program where I’d be required to do treatment stuff. I really like the group Liz has here. I saw in her book that she struggled in her youth and stuff like that, and now seeing her coming here, like wow, I never would have guessed that. She just seems like such a positive person, and she’s like definitely looking forward to the future, kind of making things better for everyone. I like that she influences healthy choices, bringing healthy snacks and stuff like that. Just knowing, from reading her book, like part of her book like she has gone through plenty of struggles, some equivalent to what people here have gone through, some possibly worse, seeing as how that doesn’t seem to be like, “Oh yeah, here’s a person who’s still struggling.” It’s like, “Oh yeah, she’s great.” She becomes a role model. Definitely.”
Girls With Sole participant in RTC, Age 15
“Girls with Sole is an amazing program and we have been beyond lucky to have Liz in our lives and in our program. All of the feedback that we get from the girls is always positive about Girls With Sole – and having a consensus in any program is a big feat to accomplish!
I have seen girls with the lowest self esteem come alive in Girls With Sole. Liz and her partners bring an amazing energy and positive light that is absolutely contagious. You can actually feel the girls leave their problems at the door and have a set time to just have fun and laugh. But GWS isn’t just about leaving your problems behind. When those issues meet them at the door again, the girls are stronger and more able to deal with them then before. Girls With Sole is empowering and soul enriching. We all need a Liz/GWS in our life!”