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I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Kim Quimby

Mom on the run builds confidence in young girls

I am a Hudson Valley Parent, Kim Quimby, Happy family

Kim Quimby, director of Girls on the Run Hudson Valley, with her daughters,
Keira, 7, and Kaitlyn, 11. Quimby discovered the national program for girls while searching for a way to help Kaitlyn build her self-confidence.

At some point, almost every daughter struggles with her self-esteem. For Cornwall mom Kim Quimby, she just didn’t think that point would come as early as it did for her daughter Kaitlyn.

“I would overhear her say things to her friends like ‘I’m not pretty,’ or ‘I’m fat,’” she recalls.  “And I’d think, ‘Oh my gosh, but you’re only 7 years old! You shouldn’t have to feel this way.’”

While searching for a way to help Kaitlyn, Quimby learned about Girls on the Run, a national program for girls in 3rd grade through 8th grade that uses running as an outlet to build confidence and self-esteem among young girls.

i am a hudson valley parent

A runner herself, Quimby found the program instantly appealing. She reached out to the group about setting up a Hudson Valley chapter. In the fall of 2012, Quimby and another mom, Michele Rider of Newburgh, began with two teams: one in Newburgh and one in Cornwall.

“We didn’t know what we were doing,” says Quimby with a laugh. “We didn’t know if the girls would like it, if the parents would like it. But it was the most amazing experience, these girls would show up at every practice so joyful to be there.”

The program has become so popular locally that they now have sites throughout the Hudson Valley. This year’s spring season ended up with 38 teams, and Quimby says they’re anticipating 45 teams for the fall session.

Each session contains not only a running segment, in which the girls train for a 5K race, but a life skills lesson as well. The lessons range from teaching the girls how to stand up for themselves, how to stand up to peer pressure, how to recognize negative self-talk and flip it to positive self-talk, and how to have gratitude.

“One of my favorites is the lesson on real beauty when we talk about focusing on the inside, and how all of those images we’re bombarded with online and in the media are unattainable,” says Quimby. “They’re not real.”

I am a Hudson Valley Parent, Girls on the Run, Amelia Lee

Amelia Lee, 8, crosses the finish line at a Girls on the Run practice run in Montgomery. Photo by Meg Limberg Wernau

The 5K race at the end of the season marks a significant milestone in the lives of the girls who take part in Girls on the Run — many of whom can’t even run one lap around the track when they begin the program.

For Quimby, last year’s race was a turning point in her life as well. After watching 300 girls run the race, she knew she had a difficult choice to make.

“I realized that I couldn’t do both jobs anymore. I had to make a choice. I didn’t have time for anybody,” she says. “So I made the choice to resign from my other job and focus on Girls on the Run. It’s been a very tough transition because I'm used to being in the corporate world and this is not corporate! But it’s been wonderful.”

For Quimby, a typical day begins with her and her husband getting lunches made and their two children — Kaitlyn, now 11, and Keira, 7 — off to their respective schools. They then work on getting dinner made in the morning, before she heads out for her daily run and then goes to the office.

Once the kids get home from school, it’s the familiar mad dash of getting them to their activities while checking in on different Girls on the Run practices.

“If we’re home before 7 p.m., that’s a good day,” she says. “It’s crazy, but we’ve found a way to balance it.”

Quimby says she has noticed a remarkable change in Kaitlyn. She’s much happier and much more confident than she was when she began the program three years ago.

In some ways, Quimby is not surprised since she herself has been enjoying the psychological benefits of regular runs for years.

“It promotes ideas of hard work, dedication,” she says. “You get out of it what you put into it. It makes me feel stronger when I’m running. It’s like my little therapy session. It’s my time alone. And it’s not about how fast or how far you go. It’s about the journey.”

Do you know a Hudson Valley parent who inspires you? We want to profile local parents who impact their community through business, politics, volunteer work, grassroots advocacy, you name it. Email our editor your “I am a Hudson Valley Parent” nomination.

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