Yellow Springs High School 2013 graduate Paloma Wiggins is the creator of the Simply Women 5k Run/Walk for Women & Girls. For five years now, the fascinating project has improved sports opportunities for girls and women of all ages, as well as, raised the awareness of healthy lifestyles for young people.
Simply Women Ohio started out as just a fundraiser for the women sports teams at YS, but Wiggins realized that there was a bigger need and void to fill.
"In the past five years, I have learned that women of all ages are interested in support for a variety of activities, not only running but female athletics and a healthy, fitness lifestyle," Wiggins said. "I talked to people in the community and found that it was difficult keeping girls participation in athletics up to a respected level. So we have expanded it to include a $500 scholarship for a female athlete that has demonstrated great leadership and we have guest speakers come in to speak with athletes."
Last year 250 people from around the Miami Valley turned out to participate in the event, the number dipped below 200 this year at the summer event, but a date change dented participation.
But the Yellow Springs Community Foundation and YSHS school officials continue to support the project. Wiggins said that with the help of the advisory board she's created and two sophomores ready to step in, Simply Women should keep on going strong for years to come.
"Tim Krier the principal has been great and the other six members of the advisory board will keep this going. Alice Miller and Molly Hendrickson are both really good and are ready to take over," Wiggins said. "I'm more confident in them then they are in themselves."
Both Hendrickson and Miller said they have spent the past year working with Wiggins on the 5K fundraiser and are ready to take over when she leaves.
"This year we helped set up the 5K and I liked spray painting the arrows on the street," Miller said with a laugh.
Hendrickson added that she is glad the duo had some time to learn the ropes. "It was nice that she gave us a year and didn't just run off and say 'I'm going off to college and you guys are helping next year.'"
Simply Women has managed to buy uniforms for teams give funds to help build the new track. Wiggins acknowledges that it isn't easy to do the event each year, but it is rewarding and she hopes the idea catches on in other communities.
Simply Women Ohio's yearly goals:
• Increasing participation of girls in sports and an overall lifestyle of health and fitness
• Demonstrating and emphasizing how being part of a team or group of fitness-minded women can be fun and build a sense of community
• Developing broader support structures in the Yellow Springs community for young women participating in sports and other healthy activities