WRITER | NICOLETTE CHAMBERY
PHOTO | GUARDIAN GALS, INC.
Instilling Fitness and Health in the Young Women of Gaylord
Nearly 20 years ago, Guardian Gals, Inc. founder Abby Hamilton recognized the need for a program to engage women from early adolescence to young adulthood in activities that promote healthy hearts and lives. More specifically, its mission states, “to actively engage girls and women to ignite positive personal growth and connection.”
Since 2002, Hamilton has brought together a dedicated team and board of directors to help govern the organization’s endeavors, including selecting and prioritizing program participants – Guardian Gals, as they are called.
The central focus is the annual half-marathon that Guardian Gals, Inc. organizes to bolster its philanthropic impact in the community.
In Hamilton’s words, “Pause today for a moment and consider how you can support adolescent girls and women in your sphere of influence. Your words, your connections, and your time are so influential; I hope all of you realize the power you hold to make an impact daily.”
Guardian Gals, Inc. has a thriving base of women who support its 10-week summer programs that highlight the importance of fitness by teaching about and engaging in an array of activities, including gardening, cooking, swimming, writing, and cycling.
The brilliance of this program is that it targets young women in grades 4 through 12 when identities are forming, and life-changing decisions are being made. Good health and fitness are all the more necessary during these vulnerable years.
Guardian Gals, Inc. enlists mentors who volunteer to help instill confidence, leadership, and self-awareness in the young women they work with. In their testimonies, many participants have reflected that this component of the organization is among the most important, as it reinforces the positive values they receive from parents, teachers, and other leaders in their lives.
Recently, the organization partnered with the local Planet Fitness chapter and continues to identify creative outlets for young women to take care of their bodies and prioritize their health. On Saturday, May 9th, Guardian Gals. Inc. and Tri To Finish will host the 10th Annual Gaylord Half-Marathon that also includes 10K, 5K, and 1-mile run/walk events in and around the Otsego Lake County Park. Each woman who participates generates funds that go toward local philanthropic endeavors, cementing a stake in the community with their support.
As Hamilton and her passionate board continue to motivate more women and young girls to take care of their bodies, it’s a helpful reminder of the benefits not only of community engagement but of engagement through meaningful activity.
Guardian Gals, Inc.
1657 County Park Road
Gaylord, MI 49735
(989) 390-5749 l GuardianGalsInc.org