© Geoff Bolte

INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 19, 2013 — On Sept. 21, 2013, gymnasts and gym clubs around the United States will celebrate the 15th annual National Gymnastics Day and promote physical fitness and gymnastics in their communities by extending opportunities for underprivileged children to participate as part of USA Gymnastics’ partnership with Right To Play or raising funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The National Gymnastics Day activities range from open houses to cartwheel-a-thons to hosting local kids from disadvantaged areas.

"National Gymnastics Day is the one day a year that our community joins together to help promote our great sport at a higher level," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "In addition to building awareness, National Gymnastics Day is also an opportunity to give back. Helping children in need is a worthy cause, and we are looking forward to extending the opportunity to underprivileged children in communities across the country through our partnership with Right To Play. In addition, we have raised more than $1.8 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals since 2001."

USA Gymnastics and Right To Play, a global organization that uses sport and play programs to educate and empower children facing adversity, awarded 26 grants to USA Gymnastics member clubs to support innovative programs and initiatives to increase gymnastics’ exposure and accessibility to children from disadvantaged or lower-income families as part of their charitable activities for National Gymnastics Day. Below are some of the activities planned for this year’s National Gymnastics Day celebrations.

  • Los Angeles, Calif. – Broadway Gymnastics School is offering free "Fitness is Fun" gymnastics workout to 50 economically disadvantaged children from Citizens of the World Charter in Mar Vista from 3-5 p.m. The children, chosen through a random draw, will learn gymnastics skills on a variety of apparatus; learn about gymnastics and its history; use their skills on an obstacle course; and earn achievement ribbons.

  • Downers Grove, Ill. – Elite Sports Complex, through working with local youth social services, is holding a special opportunity for 250 local children and their parents. The attendees will enjoy live gymnastics demonstrations in men’s and women’s gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, and dance; learn and practice gymnastics skills; and understand the importance of fitness and nutrition through participating in the USA Gymnastics Fitness Zone. Six children will receive a scholarship for an eight-week class.

  • Freehold, N.J. – Freehold Gymnastics Club is hosting a free day of gymnastics and fun for underprivileged kids. The activities will include gymnastics obstacle course, face painting, parachute games, and other games. The kids will also receive nutritious snacks and nutritional handouts.

  • Parker Ford, Pa. – Berks East Gymnastics is taking its Tumblebus on the road for a day of building awareness of gymnastics, healthy and active living and the important roles they play. The bus will visit schools throughout the area, providing printed materials and a hands-on, interactive experience to students, teachers and parents.

  • Sandy, Utah – Pinnacle Gymnastics is providing 60 children from refugee families the opportunity to participate in three, two-hour classes each week for a year, with the kick-off on Sept. 21. The students, divided into three age groups, will learn stretching, conditioning and gymnastics basics. Transportation to and from the club is provided through a bus courtesy of the Salt Lake City Public Recreation Center. Athletes at the club are volunteering to help teach the classes.

As part of the USA Gymnastics and Right To Play partnership, three of the USA’s well-known gymnasts – 2012 Olympic all-around champion Gabrielle Douglas, 2008 Olympic horizontal bar silver-medalist Jonathan Horton and 2008 Olympic team silver-medalist Alicia Sacramone – are serving as co-chairs of National Gymnastics Day and as Right To Play Athlete Ambassadors. Through special events, National Gymnastics Day, the Athlete Ambassador program and community outreach, the two organization’s mutual goal is to provide opportunities to children who would normally not have the chance to experience both gymnastics and the power of participating in sports.

Right To Play is a global organization that uses organized sport and play to educate and empower children facing adversity. It was founded in 2000 by Johann Olav Koss, a social entrepreneur and the 2013 recipient of the Henry R. Kravis Prize for Leadership. Right To Play’s organizing premise — that play-based learning can act as a powerful tool for a child’s social and cognitive development — has shown measurable results in 20 countries on four continents. Right To Play serves more than one million children every week in regular activities that promote health, conflict resolution, basic life skills, education, self-esteem, dignity and respect. These are children who have lost family members, have disabilities, are affected by HIV and AIDS, live on the streets and in refugee camps, and are former child combatants. 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.

Since the partnership with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals was established in 2001, National Gymnastics Day activities have raised more than $1.8 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through the participation and support of USA Gymnastics member clubs. All donations raised through benefit Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in the club or gymnast’s local area.