I am Eastmark is a movement born from the aspirations of our most inspiring residents. These residents inspire not because of what they do, but because of who they are – ordinary people doing often extraordinary things. Their commitment to health and fitness, family and friends, kindness and compassion resonate and motivate others to follow suit. They embody the Eastmark spirit. They are Eastmark.
Meet Jennifer Hanlin and Girls on the Run (GOTR). This fall Jennifer brought the international GOTR program right here to Eastmark, and in just a few short months a dynamic group of Eastmark girls forged new friendships, built self-confidence, talked positive body image, and logged several hundred laps in the neighborhood.
What brought you to Arizona?
I’m a native Arizonan, born and raised in the West Valley. My family and I moved to Eastmark about four years ago.
Why did you choose to make Eastmark your home?
I work for Grand Canyon University (GCU) and relocated to Eastmark when GCU was planning to open a campus here. Even though that plan fell through, we fell in love with the community, the schools, and the whole concept of Eastmark, so we decided to stay. We were part of the first 100 residents to move into Eastmark and we live in phase one of the Ryland (now Cal-Atlantic) homes near Figueroa Green park.
What is your background?
Much of my time is spent with my three kids and all of their sports and school activities—all three kids attend BASIS Mesa here in Eastmark. I’m the team mom for my son’s football team, I’m heading up the GOTR group, and my daughter and I love to ride our bikes whenever we can throughout the neighborhood. I used to be a runner and ran lots of 5Ks, and my daughters participated in GOTR for three consecutive years when we lived in the West Valley. Our family also has three very large dogs: a Doberman, a Pitbull, and a Shar Pei lab.
What do you think makes for a strong community and what characteristics do you value in a neighbor?
I value transparency and honesty in my neighbors. And I love how everyone is willing to help at the drop of a hat. It’s pretty amazing when somebody posts on Facebook and a neighbor is always there to help.
Why did you want to bring GOTR to Eastmark?
I really wanted do this with my daughter and introduce the program to other girls in the neighborhood. I love the GOTR message of teaching young girls about positive body image. I’m so tired of hearing about negative body image and body shaming, and ‘should I eat this’ or ‘should I not eat that?’ It’s overwhelming. So to be able to help girls be comfortable with who they are is so important.
We had 10 girls participate this fall: five girls in Girls on the Run for 3rd through 5th graders, and five girls in Heart and Sole for 6th through 8th graders. The girls met two nights a week at The Great Park for a physical activity plus the program curriculum. The girls also completed a service project in late October packaging food for Feed My Starving Children.
What’s your favorite part about the GOTR group this season?
The girls have progressed a lot! When we first started the program, the girls were walking or running about three or four laps, and by the end of the program we had some girls running 12 to 15 laps around the Eastmark Event Pavilion stage (for the younger girls) and from The ‘Mark down to The Orange Monster and back (for the older girls).
It wasn’t required with the curriculum, but some of the coaches also made themselves available at 7 a.m. on Saturdays to run practice 5Ks. Many of the girls chose to be out there on Saturday mornings, and even brought along their siblings.
On November 18 the girls ran in the GOTR final 5K at Wesley Bolin Plaza in Downtown Phoenix. The run brought together GOTR groups from around Maricopa and Pinal counties. We even gathered for a post-5K banquet at Jimmy Johns!
I really have to say, GOTR at Eastmark would not have happened without all of the coaches who donated their time and effort, who spent time away from their families, paid for their own CPR classes, showed up to all of the sessions, and even provided snacks for the girls. A big thank you goes out to Eastmark residents Marti Ouellette, Jessica Leimbeck, Sara Hogy and Stephanie Madden for volunteering to coach the girls!
How can residents get involved?
If there are girls in Eastmark interested in joining GOTR, their parents are welcome to reach out to me directly.
Do you have an extraordinary neighbor you’d like to see featured in an upcoming #iameastmark resident profile? Let us know.
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