Non-Profits Empower Downtown Girls through Athletics

Non-Profits Empower Downtown Girls through Athletics
At their annual fundraising gala, Sneaker Ball, the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Nevada will be honoring youth advocate Brigette Kirvin, alongside two other local active supporters. 

Pictured: Depicted in green are the 3-5th grade participants from the Downtown Boys & Girls Club. In white are their Running Buddies, including Downtown Clubhouse Director Leslie Benitez, and volunteers from AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps.

Kirvin is not only a supporter and sponsor of the clubs, but also the executive director of the national non-profit Girls on the Run. Since 2014, Kirvin has worked with clubhouse directors Flor Loya and Leslie Benitez to bring the Girls on the Run program to the Downtown Las Vegas Boys & Girls Club.

Runners and their Buddies crossing the finish line at the end of their celebratory 5k, signaling a successful end to their 10-week season
Runners and their Buddies crossing the finish line at the end of their celebratory 5k, signaling a successful end to their 10-week season

The Girls on the Run program consists of athletic training and mentorship through curriculum led by certified coaches designed to increase girls” self-confidence, community awareness, and ability to build healthy habits and relationships. The program culminates in a celebratory 5k, during which the participants are paired with Running Buddies, who run with the girls to provide support and encouragement. This spring, the non-profit will have served its millionth girl since starting in 1996.

The programs presence at the Downtown Club has had a noticeably positive impact on the third through fifth grade girls who have run with them. Clubhouse Director Leslie Benitez says, “The girls that participate have become more accepting of each other and other members. They seem to accept diversity a lot easier than members who do not participate.” On a nationwide scale, Girls on the Run has surveyed hundreds of participants. Their findings show significant growth in self-confidence, compassion for others, and connection to community. In Kirvin’s words, the program provides its participants “a platform to shine”.

In bringing the program to the Downtown Club, Kirvin recognized the need for lower cost sports programming for girls in areas with economic challenges. She viewed the nurturing environment of the Downtown Club as a solid foundation for Girls on the Run.

“Their lives are not always easy,” says Kirvin. “Divided families and lower income issues can plague a child’s life and force them to face very grown up realities. But when they come to their GOTR session twice a week, they get to focus on themselves and how to unleash their own personal power and embrace their uniqueness.”

Their 5k on Sunday April 26th hosted over 600 participants, including volunteers from corporate sponsor Coca-Cola, and members from a visiting AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team as Running Buddies for the girls. After such a success, both Benitez and Kirvin look forward to a bright future for their partnership.

In regards to her award at the upcoming Sneaker Ball on May 8th, Kirvin says, “I am honored and humbled to be recognized by such an extraordinary group like the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Nevada…I am inspired by the dedicated staff and moved by the loving heartts of the B&G Club kids. Serving our youth and helping raise productive, confident, inspired citizens is a like-minded goal for both organizations. I feel blessed and grateful to serve alongside the men and women who lead this effort tirelessly each and every day.”

Sneaker Ball will be taking place Friday, May 8 at the M Resort Spa and Casino. It will feature both live and silent auctions, dinner, and the honoring of Brigette Kirvin, husband Dave Kirvin, and Natalie Gulbis for their support of the Boys & Girls Clubs, and dedication to youth advocacy.