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The long run


Girls on the Run (from left) Signe Wright, coach Jackie Kaminski, Elizabeth Mowers and Jessica Herkowski. Kaminski is raising money to start a similar group in Ozaukee County.

When Jackie Kaminski was growing up in Nebraska, the second youngest of eight children, she felt lost in the shuffle sometimes ó especially during her preteen years.

"I was grappling with where I fit in, how to express myself, why I was feeling those feelings," says Kaminski, a certified personal trainer and Thiensville resident. "I was lucky to meet teachers at that time who never gave up on me ó who encouraged me to set goals and work to accomplish them."

Now Kaminski wants to be just that someone for others. Motivated by a client whose daughter was struggling with preteen, self-esteem issues, Kaminski became involved with Girls on the Run, an international nonprofit organization that helps preteen girls develop healthy lifestyles through running.

"Girls of every shape and size can run," says Kaminski. But Girls on the Run isnít just about running. In this 12-week, after-school course, all aspects of a girlís development are addressed: physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well-being.

"We discuss topics such as self-respect, listening, cooperation, reflection, gossiping and bullying. Then we embark on a gradual path toward running a local 5K race," she says.

As a trainer, Kaminskiís approach is one-on-one ó she strides alongside her clients, competing in events with them to witness the change they want to see.

"I envision young girls using fitness as a healthy tool for lifeís journey ó a way to work through challenges and believe in themselves throughout their lives," says Kaminski. "If we take a little time now to work with girls this age, it will pay off in the long run.

"As for me, I am truly happiest when I can help others," concludes Kaminski, whose personal goal is to run a half-marathon in all 50 states.

Girls on the Run has more than 160 councils across the United States and Canada, including one in metro Milwaukee via the Nicolet recreation department in Glendale. In October, Kaminski will compete in an Ironman triathlon to raise money for the charity running leg of Girls on the Run. Her goal is to bring the program to Ozaukee County.

To donate or express support for Girls on the Run, visit Kaminskiís Web site,, and click on "Journey to Ironman."