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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fitness charities for children that inspire us

Bent on Learning

Bent on Learning (Photo: Elephant Journal)

Most New York City public school kids get less than 15 minutes of recess a day, and 80% of public schools don’t have gyms at all. So fitness charities are stepping in to keep kids moving.  We rounded up our four favorites, each of which provides ample opportunity for donating your talent, time, and sweat.

Bent on Learning
Started in 2001, this non-profit teaches yoga to 1,500 kids per week, right in their classrooms—no gym facility needed.  “Life is filled with challenges and those who practice understand that yoga one of the nicest places to land,” says founder Courtney McDowell. Bent on Learning also provides yoga, breath, and meditation training for public school teachers so they can help students to reduce stress and improve concentration and self-esteem.
Get involved:
Teaching yoga classes is obviously a huge help to the organization, but those of us who haven’t gone through teacher-training can also volunteer at benefit events, by distributing and washing the yoga mats, and within the office itself. www.bentonlearning.org

Girls on the Run
An after-school program aimed at girls in grades 3-5 (there’s also a middle school version called “Girls on Track”), Girls on the Run uses running as a means to build self-confidence and positive body image. A 12-week curriculum, that includes team-building exercises in addition to running, culminates in a 5K event. 
Get involved:
Volunteer to be a running buddy at a local school, or coach a team  There are locations all across the city. www.gotrm.org

Volunteer to be a running buddy with Girls on the Run

GoGirlGo!
The Women’s Sports Foundation runs this program aimed at getting girls ages 8-18 active in sports and physical activity. A special GoGirlGo! curriculum addresses life pressures (from drugs to dating)  and suggests coping tools and strategies, among them physical activity. 
Get involved:
If you’re in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago or San Antonio you can sign up to be a local volunteer. If you’re a New Yorker, like we are, you can sponsor a participant or make a planned gift. www.womenssportsfoundation.org

Start Your Engine
This non-profit isn’t aimed at children, instead it’s aimed at their moms. Launched last year by Anastasia Holmes, this Brooklyn-based health program offers women all the tools needed to create a healthier lifestyle. The curriculum includes exercise, time and stress management, and nutrition. 
Get involved:
Dietitians, personal trainers, life coaches, mental health professionals and experts in time and stress management are asked to donate their knowledge and expertise. Contact Anastasia for details. www.startyourenginenyc.org
Danielle Alvarez

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