Fugate, E., MPH
Department of Health Policy & Management, Harvard School of Public HealthI
Boston, MA, USA

Vestal Tibbetts, C., MPH
Title IX Girls Running Club
Cambridge, MA USA

Tendulkar, S., ScD
Department of Community Health, Tufts University
Medford, MA, USA

Rodriguez-Rennard, S., LMHC 
Title IX Girls Running Club Cambridge, MA USA

Russell, J.
Title IX Girls Running Club Cambridge, MA USA

Paper Abstract

Although mental health promotion programs have been shown to have a positive impact on adolescents, there is limited understanding as to how these interventions are experienced and understood by adolescents themselves. This preliminary study presents the content analysis of participant journal entries from Title IX Girls Running Club, a gender specific, psycho-educational running program that seeks to promote mental well-being through cognitive behavioral techniques and mindfulness-based strategies for girls aged 9-15. The study seeks to understand participants’ experiences and perspectives in their own words, and use this information to suggest effective practices for other adolescent mental health promotion programs. Participant journal entries from 2012-2015 were transcribed and coded using a modified Grounded Theory approach. Analyses of the journal excerpts revealed four overarching themes related to adolescents’ reflections and learnings: mind-body connection, coping skills and self-regulation, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness. The journal entries underscore the importance of practicing various health promotion strategies and providing multiple opportunities to experience success and discover individualized best practices. Using running as a context in which participants could experience stress and discomfort in a low-risk, supported setting was key to cultivating the skills needed to promote mental health.