Girls on Track is a program that helps girls in grades six to eight become better runners and boost self-confidence. The program prepares you for a 5K that you do at the end of your training.

Girls on Track isn't really a track program. It's actually a pun, meaning the girls on the running track are learning to be on the "right track" in life. You may have heard of Girls on the Run. Girls on Track and Girls on the Run are mostly the same program. The only difference is that the topics discussed during Girls on Track are aimed towards middle school girls and issues we may face.

This year, there were only ten girls in my group. This gave us the privilege to run in more places and in larger loops then just around the school property. All of the girls were so much fun to be with and made the program even better! The coaches also made things fun too. The coaches were my mother, Sarah Dahl, and Nicole Dodge. They helped motivate everyone and were always there to help.

The day our school had our Girls on Track and Girls on The Run race was June first. This year it was in Rutland, Vt. We had run is Brattleboro before, but because the program has been so successful, the program added a third race in Vermont. We were excited for race day. The day was very hot! I decided before the race that I was not going to go for any personal record, due to the heat, but I would do my best.

Early on in the race I was having trouble breathing. I walked for a little and felt a lot better. Each time I started running again it became harder and harder. I was very fortunate though to have my friend Bridget (Keenan) beside me the whole race. She really helped me get to the finish. Another huge help was all of the volunteers who continuously cheered me on.

I learned more than just how to run from Girls on Track. I've found that is has helped me in so many different aspects of my life.

I want to thank all of the Girls on Track and Girls on the run volunteers, my teammates, and my coaches. I am already looking forward to next year!

Olivia Salem is in the 7th Grade at Sacred Heart School in Bennington. She is the daughter or Dr. Sarah Dahl and Dr. Charles Salem. Visit www.svhealthcare.org to learn more about SVMC. "Health Matters" is a weekly column meant to educate readers about their personal health, public health matters, and public policy as it affects health care.