Juanita Paz-Chalacha is a Girls on the Run member at Cherokee Elementary School. She is an amazing 5th grader that has a quiet elegance.
According to Juanita’s mother, Rebecca Paz-Chalacha, “Juanita chose to join Girls on the Run, (GOTR) because she wanted to gain the courage to practice running and exercising in an emotionally safe environment, without having to worry about whether other children would be making unnecessary and hurtful remarks about her weight. Juanita wanted to learn how to be brave and how to conquer her fear about exercising in front of other people, and felt that GOTR would provide a very positive environment for her to participate in exercise, and help her be ready to face any obstacles that may be in the way of her completing what she starts.”
Juanita was a little nervous before she joined GOTR. She worried about what other children would say about her weight and that they would say things to make her feel bad. Her mother reports, “I am thrilled that there has only been positive interaction with other GOTR members and she is doing a wonderful job participating. She also has a heart condition, but as of now the doctors say she is doing well and running will help her to improve.”
According to her mother, GOTR has had a positive impact on Juanita, “She has improved her self-esteem, which has inspired her to change her eating habits. She had her mind set that she could reach the finish line; even if she wasn’t the first one at least she had the heart and courage to try and she did achieve her goal. In her heart and soul she was a winner for completing the 5K run, because she has worked hard and practiced, practiced, practiced to achieve her goal. I am so proud of her.”
She has an upbeat and positive attitude to encourage herself to make healthier changes in her lifestyle. She enjoys working with her teachers because they have an upbeat and positive attitude to help her and others in the GOTR group to succeed, not only physically but mentally.
According to her Cherokee Elementary Assistant Principal Rebecca Ensley, “Juanita Paz-Chalacha is a model student. She is determined to get the most out of life whether it is through her academics or taking care of her health. She has set a goal for herself to be as healthy as possible by staying fit and active. Whether it is being a member of Girls on the Run or walking the track at school or making healthy food choices, it is obvious that Juanita understands the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This determination carries over into her academics as she is meticulous and thorough in her academic work and always eager to learn new things. With Juanita’s resolve and purpose in her life, she has a very bright future!”
Girls on the Run is an internationally recognized non-profit program focused on the development of girls. The program’s objective is to reduce the potential display of at-risk activities among its participants. It includes training for a 3.1 mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. As coaches, we encourage positive emotional, social, mental, and physical development in our participants.
This spring, Cherokee Choices Mentors will continue to coach the Cherokee Elementary Girls on the Run and the Swain East Elementary Girls on the Run Programs. For more information on Girls on the Run, visit the WNC Girls on the Run web site at https://www.gotrwnc.org, or call Tara McCoy at 497-1976.
– Cherokee Choices