BOONE — The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognized Girls on the Run of the High Country as a National Youth Sports Strategy Champion.

As a NYSS Champion, GOTR-HC has demonstrated their organization’s commitment to support safe, fun, inclusive, developmentally appropriate and accessible youth sports opportunities. Girls on the Run is recognized along with other NYSS Champions on as part of a growing network of organizations partnering with NCDHHS to improve the youth sports landscape in America.

“We know children who obtain regular physical activity gain important physical and mental health benefits, which are more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health at NCDHHS Paul Reed, M.D. said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to acknowledge the work of the NYSS Champions who are helping to foster a lifelong love of sports and physical activity for our Nation’s youth.”

Girls on the Run, a program of the Blue Cross NC Institute for Health and Human Services at Appalachian, is proud of the recognition from The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

“Our goal is to make this program accessible to any girl in the 3rd-5th grade who lives in Ashe, Allegany, Watauga, Wilkes or Avery counties” GOTR-HC Director Mary Sheryl Horine said in a statement. “It’s been difficult to provide in-person programming this past year but we’re excited to get back to business in the fall.”

The NYSS is a federal roadmap with actionable strategies for youth, adults who interact with youth, organizations, communities, and public policy makers to increase participation in youth sports and improve the youth sports experience. The NYSS vision is that one day all youth will have the opportunity, motivation, and access to play sports — regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex, ability or ZIP code. NYSS Champions are recognized for working towards achieving this vision.

Girls on the Run is a national physical activity-based positive youth development program for third through eighth-grade girls. Participants develop and improve competence, feel confidence in who they are, develop strength of character, respond to others and oneself with care, create positive connections with peers and adults and make a meaningful contribution to community and society. Each session is led by trained volunteer coaches who guide and mentor the girls. The ten-week program concludes with all participants completing a celebratory 5K event, which gives them a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals. Girls on the Run has served more than 1.2 million girls since its inception in 1996.

Blue Cross of NC Institute for Health and Human Services, within Appalachian’s Beaver College of Health Sciences, opened in 2008 to provide multidisciplinary research opportunities, clinical services, community outreach and training programs related to improving the health of the regional community. The IHHS aspires to take education and research beyond the walls of academia by engaging the very people it serves in the process of training future providers, building research relevant to rural health, and creating a sustainable culture of health through regional community partnerships in education and preventive services.

For more information about Girls on the Run of the High Country, visit

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