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Someone You Should Know: Helping girls be healthy, happy, and confident

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 7:59 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - At just 20 years old, a University of Sioux Falls student is already having a positive impact on young girls in the community.

Cassidy Wassenaar is studying nursing at USF. She’s also one of the volunteer coaches for EmBe’s “Girls on the Run” program.

She first joined last fall after hearing about the program from one of her nursing professors.

"Helping the girls become healthier physically, but also emotionally and mentally I think is a really amazing thing.”

The roughly two-month-long program consists of teaching 3rd through 5th-grade girls' life skills through interactive lessons and taking them for a run each after-school session, ultimately preparing them for a 5k at the end of the program.

Cassidy says you don’t have to be an avid runner to be a good coach but in her experience, you do have to have a few important qualities, especially if someone is having a bad day.

“You have to be able to observe and listen to these girls because they’re most of the time not going to come up to you and tell you that they have a problem. It’s more so of being there and seeing that they’re not being themselves and talking with them and figuring out what else is going on in their life.”

Being observant really came in handy in one particular situation, a story Cassidy recently shared on our morning show.

"We have these cards and they say ‘I’m going to accomplish this many goals today’ and so on one of the little girl’s cards she wrote ‘I hate myself’ and so I saw that she wrote that when she was showing me her lap goals, so I pulled her aside and I said ‘hey, what’s going on?’ i could see that she was acting a little bit differently that day, she’s usually very bubbly and happy and she proceeded to tell me that she was put in timeout for the first time since kindergarten and she was just feeling very down about herself.”

“and so I was able to pull her aside and work through what she was going through.”

Having a younger sister herself, Cassidy says she was drawn to the program when she first heard about it and she can’t wait to continue giving back this fall.

“If I can just be a constant in their life to know that I am there and I will be there to help them, then that’s an amazing thing in my book.”

This year’s fall program begins Thursday across South Dakota.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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