This blog is written by one of our mentors from our most recent Healing Steps program. We are grateful to have such a dedicated group of volunteer mentors. Thank you to Stacy for writing this awesome blog about what Healing Steps means to her.
I can distinctly remember crossing the finish line during my first (and only thus far) half marathon. I had been running with a friend of mine and as soon as my feet crossed over the timing plate, she hugged me tightly while I sobbed in triumph into her sweaty shoulder. She had done numerous half marathons in the past, so logging 13.1 miles was nothing out of the ordinary for her. However, running that distance had always felt impossible to me.
I started running during a transitional time in my life as a way to cope with stress and deflated self-esteem. As soon as I laced up my shoes and hit the pavement, the only relationship I needed to worry about was the one between myself and the road underneath me. Three years ago, I started mentoring with Kelly as a way to encourage others to nourish their relationship with exercise and mindfulness.
Since then, I decided to return to school to earn my degree in Social Work with Siena College. I saw how powerful Kelly’s groups were for everyone involved; even though I was there for the women and girls in the group, I always walked away with more insight. This year, I was able to have a more in-depth role within the group and saw exactly how impactful Healing Steps is for every participant.
Kelly has the ability to take girls with different backgrounds and form a cohesive group that fosters independence, empowerment, mindfulness, and gratitude. Each session, Kelly uses different activities that help the girls bond and bolster support. This relationship is essential during the training period where they do various running workouts in all types of weather. Many of the girls have stressors in their life that affect them daily. Healing Steps equips the girls with tools to help them cope with the curve balls life throws their way.
This year’s group was inspiring for me. The girls worked hard during every workout and formed friendships that I hope they carry with them outside of Healing Steps. They never left a workout without encouraging each other and sharing moments of laughter, even during sprints in the rain. I saw how crossing the finish line at our goal race gave them a sense of pride and accomplishment. The energy was palpable; watching the girls achieve their goals is a scene I will never tire of and motivates me until the next session of Healing Steps begins.