‘She’s the First’ 5K run raises funds for schools
By Sharla Grass , The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, August 17, 2012
The Dartmouth chapter of She’s the First, a national nonprofit organization that aims to improve educational opportunities for girls globally, raised $950 as of Thursday evening for its first campus 5K run and walk on Saturday, according to chapter co-president and co-founder Victoria Townsend ’14. Proceeds from the race will go toward sponsoring female students at the Arlington Academy of Hope primary school in Uganda, Townsend said.
She’s the First sponsors girls’ education in countries where they are not typically able to attend school because of “societal norms or government restrictions,” Townsend said. Townsend and Nayrana Carneiro ’14 founded the Dartmouth chapter of the organization in May, she said.
Although the 5K was initially planned for Spring term, the group felt that summer was a better time to hold the event, Carneiro said. Despite initial concerns that other events such as the Prouty and Fieldstock weekend would result in decreased participation, they expect a large turnout, she said.
“It’s summer — perfect weather — and people want to be fit,” Townsend said. “We figured doing this would spread our name pretty widely because it’s a much bigger event than a bake sale.”
The race will start and conclude on Gold Coast Lawn, Townsend said. Forty students — each of whom was encouraged to give a suggested donation of $15 — are currently registered to participate, she said. The organization hopes that residents of the Upper Valley who are not affiliated with the College will also register on the day of the event, Townsend said.
“We’ve gotten donations from a lot of local businesses to entice people,” Townsend said.
Participants who register for the race have the chance to win gift cards from a variety of local businesses, including Ramunto’s Pizza, Morano Gelato, Dirt Cowboy Cafe and Stone Arch Bakery in Lebanon, N.H.
Several dozen volunteers have signed up to set up the race, lead registration, paint faces and give out popcorn and water, Townsend said.
The 2014 Class Council is helping the chapter with publicity for the race and donating water to the effort, Townsend said. Some Class Council members are volunteering to help with the race on Saturday, according to Class Council treasurer Amy Li ’14.
“They approached us, and we’re really big on sponsoring ’14-led initiatives and this is mostly ’14s involved,” Li said. Although different chapters of the organization sponsor girls in a variety of schools, all proceeds from Dartmouth’s chapter currently fund students’ education at Arlington Academy, Townsend said. The school was chosen because of its strong connection to the national She’s the First organization and its relatively low fee for a school year, Townsend said.
“We pay a certain fee, which pays for their uniforms, their school supplies, food for the year — basically everything they need,” Townsend said.
The precise number of girls the organization is able to sponsor depends on how much money the group raises, Townsend said.
Dartmouth students through Alpha Xi Delta sorority held a tie-dye cupcake fundraiser in the fall to support the national organization in conjunction with a larger She’s the First cupcake bake sale event, Townsend said. The Dartmouth chapter held a bake sale in the spring with the Women of Color Collective, and this term has focused on planning the 5K race, she said.
Townsend wanted to bring the organization to campus because she felt a personal connection with She’s the First and supports its mission, she said. The founder of the national organization was a friend of Townsend’s cousin, and Townsend’s sister founded the University of Notre Dame chapter, she said.
“I personally think that She’s the First has a great mission because their idea is that if you educate a girl, it has an effect on the rest of the community in that she takes what she learns and makes better choices in terms of her own health care, like how many children she’s going to have,” she said. “It decreases maternal mortality rates because they have a better understanding of what they’re doing, and a decreased number of children per household means that each child has a higher chance of being successful.”
Support for female students has a “domino effect” because they give a larger proportion of their resources back to their families than men do, Townsend said.
“These girls are in a different country and have to rely on someone else to help them go to school, and I think it really touched me this summer, because people were complaining about going to school over the summer,” Carneiro said. “People should appreciate that they get to go to school, especially when it’s so beautiful outside.”
The 5K race has the potential to become an annual event, Townsend said.
“If the incoming sophomore classes for the future want to do it in their sophomore summer and have that be a thing that She’s the First does, it would be great,” she said. “Or maybe we’ll have it in the spring next year. We’d love to do it again, but we’re also looking for different types of fundraisers for the upcoming terms.”