INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 18, 2014 – For the second straight year, 2012 Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas and 2008 Olympic horizontal bar silver medalist Jonathan Horton of Houston/Team Hilton HHonors (Cypress Gymnastics), are serving as co-chairs for National Gymnastics Day, when the USA Gymnastics community celebrates the sport of gymnastics and the importance of play for all children. USA Gymnastics is partnering with Right To Play to extend the outreach for National Gymnastics Day to children who do not have access to gymnastics programs on a regular basis. To accommodate the wealth of interest, programs and events, National Gymnastics Day on Sept. 20 is the start of four days of fun and programs to promote the benefits of gymnastics and the life skills the sport teaches, with many programs and activities focused on providing opportunities to underprivileged children.
The spectrum of planned activities during Sept. 20-23 ranges from gymnastics demonstrations to inviting under-privileged, military and/or neighborhood center children to participate in gymnastics activities to visiting local area schools to hold gymnastics activities and play-based learning games. Five gymnastics clubs are offering scholarships for a total of 101 underserved or underprivileged children.
“National Gymnastics Day began as simply an opportunity to promote our great sport,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “For more than 10 years, this special day has also grown into a time for giving back and helping those less fortunate. USA Gymnastics and Right To Play share the belief that play is important to the growth of today’s youth, and we appreciate the many activities and initiatives our community has created to bring gymnastics and the spirit of play to those who are less fortunate.”
Johann Olav Koss, the founder of Right To Play, said, “Right To Play began as an initiative to bring the power of sport and play to children living in countries affected by war, poverty and disease. Our partnership with USA Gymnastics has helped us extend that reach to children in the United States who also do not have the opportunity to experience the power of play and how it can help them prepare for the future. This year, through National Gymnastics Day, we hope to reach more than 10,000 children in cities and communities across the U.S.”
Among the hundreds of clubs nationwide hosting National Gymnastics Day functions, are 34 USA Gymnastics member clubs that received a grant through the partnership of USA Gymnastics and Right To Play, a global organization that uses sport and play programs to educate and empower children facing adversity, to create activities to benefit underprivileged children in their communities.
The organizers and participants in National Gymnastics Day activities are encouraged to use social media to help document the many activities held during the four days. A special link to share is available at usagym.org/ngd, providing a place that will serve as a resource for finding activities in a local area a place where clubs and participants can post images and videos from the celebrations in their area. They can also post pictures to the USA Gymnastics or Right To Play Facebook pages (facebook.com/USAGymnastics, facebook.com/RightToPlayUSA), as well as post on Instagram and Twitter using #NGD2014.
The 34 member clubs that received a grant are listed below by state.
Arizona Sunrays Gymnastics & Dance Center, Phoenix, Ariz.
Hot Spot Gymnastics, Casa Grande, Ariz.
The District Gymnastics Academy, Indio, Calif.
Fallbrook Gymnastics Club, Fallbrook, Calif.
Colorado: TIGAR Gymnastics and Cheer, Wheat Ridge, Colo.
Defy Gravity, Groveland, Fla.
North Central Florida YMCA, Gainesville, Fla.
Georgia: BIO Gymnastics and Athletics Unlimited, Cumming, Ga.
Iowa: Iowa Gym-Nest, Iowa City, Iowa
Peoria Elite Gymnastic Academy (PEGA), Peoria, Ill.
Jump Start Gymnastics & Kids Activity Center, Peoria, Ill.
Sokol Tabor, Berwyn, Ill.
Indiana: Lafayette Area Gymnastics Club, Lafayette, Ind.
Louisiana: All Star Gymnastics, Harvey, La.
Maine: Waterville YMCA gymnastics, Waterville, Maine
Michigan: Branch Gymnastics of Battle Creek, Battle Creek, Mich.
Minnesota: Richfield Gymnastics Club, Richfield, Minn.
North Carolina: Superior Gymnastics, Morrisville, N.C.
New Mexico: Gym Magic, Las Cruces, N.M.
Glens Falls YMCA, Glens Falls, N.Y.
Wendy Hilliard Foundation, New York, N.Y.
Watertown YMCA Twisting Starz Gymnastics, Watertown, N.Y.
Oklahoma: Aim High Academy, Tulsa, Okla.
Oregon: Eastern Oregon Gymnastics Academy, Pendleton, Ore.
Rhode Island: Renaissance Gymnastics Academy, East Providence, R.I.
Tennessee: Tumblebees of Tennessee, Jacksboro, Tenn.
Texas: Piney Woods Gymnastics Training Center Inc., Longview, Texas
Black Diamond Gymnastics and Sports Center, Park City, Utah
Volonte T & T, Kaysville, Utah
Virginia: Paragon Training Center, Fredericksburg, Va.
Vermont: Head Over Heels Gymnastics, Rutland, Vt.
Wisconsin: Infinite Gymnastics, Brown Deer, Wis.
West Virginia: Princeton Gymnastics, Princeton, W.Va.
Wyoming: Legacy Gym, Rock Springs, Wyo.
Right To Play and USA Gymnastics share the mission of positioning sport and play as pathways for educating children and youth to overcome adversity in disadvantaged communities. This year’s goal is for the events to incorporate a game or activity using gymnastics skills to teach a life lesson. Play-based learning is a critical piece of Right To Play’s mission.
Right To Play is a global organization, using the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. Through playing sports and games, Right To Play helps over one million children learn through play to create better futures, while driving lasting social change in more than 20 countries each week. Right To Play programs focus on activities that promote health, conflict resolution, basic life skills, education, self-esteem, dignity and respect. Founded in 2000 by Koss, a social entrepreneur and four-time Olympic gold medalist, Right To Play is supported by an international network of more than 300 professional and Olympic athletes from more than 40 countries. For more information, visit www.righttoplayusa.org.