"Our gymnastics family really made this year's National Gymnastics Day one of the best we have had," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "Although National Gymnastics Day started as a way to build awareness, our community has embraced also making this day about giving back to the local communities. We are proud of the efforts of all of our clubs and members who participated in activities in and around Sept. 21."
This year, more than 60 clubs hosted activities to raise funds for Children Miracle Network Hospitals, and for the second straight year, California Sports Center of San Jose, Calif., was the top club for fundraising, and its Lilly Anderson was the top individual fundraiser. California Sports Center raised $38,119, followed by Northern Elite Gymnastics & Cheer in second at $20,571 and United Sports Academy at $17,139. Anderson raised $13,000 and earned a trip for two to the 2014 AT&T American Cup in Greensboro, N.C., and will be featured in promotional materials for next year's National Gymnastics Day. The top three clubs will receive AAI gift certificates and gift certificates for USA Gymnastics educational courses, etc. All donations raised through National Gymnastics Day benefit Children's Miracle Network hospitals in the club's or gymnast's local area.
More than 5,000 children were involved in programs and initiatives held by the 25 USA Gymnastics Member Clubs that received grants to host events to increase gymnastics' exposure and accessibility to children from disadvantaged or lower-income families as part of their charitable activities for National Gymnastics Day. More than half of the participants experienced gymnastics for the first time. The grants were made available through funding from the P&G Team USA Youth Sports Fund and Right To Play, a global organization that uses sport and play programs to educate and empower children facing adversity.
The grant recipients, determined by USA Gymnastics and Right To Play, hosted a variety of different activities, and below are a few of the programs held in conjunction with National Gymnastics Day.
Berks East Gymnastics in Parker Ford, Pa., took its Tumblebus on the road for a day to build awareness of gymnastics, healthy and active living, and the important roles they play in a healthy lifestyle. The bus visited schools throughout the area, providing printed materials and a hands-on, interactive experience to students, teachers and parents.
Broadway Gymnastics School in Los Angeles hosted a "Fitness is Fun" gymnastics workout for 50 economically disadvantaged children from Citizens of the World Charter School in Mar Vista, Calif. The children learned gymnastics skills on a variety of apparatus and participated in other activities, including an obstacle course.
Elite Sports Complex in Downers Grove, Ill., worked with local youth social services to hold a special opportunity for 250 local children and their parents. The attendees enjoyed live demonstrations in men's and women's gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, and dance. Children learned and practiced gymnastics skills and participated in the USA Gymnastics Fitness Zone to discover the importance of fitness and nutrition. Six children received scholarships for an eight-week class.
Falcon Gymnastics and Fitness in Belle Vernon, Pa., hosted a "Carnival of Fitness," where 150 children participated in gymnastics, yoga, karate, soccer and an assortment of other exercise-based activities, as well as learning about healthy eating.
Freehold Gymnastics Club in Freehold, N.J., hosted a free day of gymnastics and fun for underprivileged kids. The activities included a gymnastics obstacle course, face painting, parachute games, and more. The children enjoyed some nutritious snacks during a review of a handout on healthy eating.
Head Over Heels in Rutland Vt., created a fitness zone with gymnastics activities at two schools in its community. Many families in the area have cut back on children's extracurricular activities due to rising unemployment. Students received health and fitness handouts, created by club coaches, and interacted with team athletes.
In New York City, the Wendy Hilliard Foundation invited 300 individuals from the community to attend "National Gymnastics Day in Harlem" at River State Park. Attendees played in a fitness zone, watched demonstrations, practiced basic skills on gymnastics apparatus and listened to a presentation on healthy eating.
Jump Start Gymnastics & Kids' Activity Center, of Peoria, Ill., partnered with Trewyn Elementary School to educate students about achieving their goals despite adversity and how participating in sports encourages success. The school, which has a limited budget, is not able to offer gymnastics programs.
Pinnacles Gymnastics in Sandy, Utah, provided 60 children from refugee families with the opportunity to participate in three, two-hour classes each week for a year, with the first class held on Sept. 21. The students, who are divided into three age groups, are learning 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. The trio, along with legendary coach Bela Karolyi, participated in the Gymnastics Festival in Harlem on Sept. 15, which provided more than 300 children from throughout the New York metro area with the opportunity to learn gymnastics basics through the USA Gymnastics Fitness Zone and experience the power and benefits of sport and play. 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.
To mark this year's National Gymnastics Day, gymnasts, coaches, gymnastics clubs and fans submitted nearly 950 photos to the USA Gymnastics Facebook page, with 1,910 Instagram posts. National Gymnastics Day's hashtag, #NGD2013, was used more than 1,200 times.
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.
The P&G Team USA Youth Sports Fund benefits U.S. Olympic Committee youth sport organizations and the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to support their programs. Monies for the fund come from consumer engagement, donations and brand programs from the company's leadership brands, including Pampers®, Tide®, Gillette® and Pantene®, among others. Additional support will be derived from corporate marketing programs. The fund will be supported through integration across marketing channels including advertising, public relations, in-store merchandising, mobile, digital and direct mail. This is part of P&G's 'Thank you, Mom' campaign and the company's global effort to raise more than $5 million for youth sports. P&G is a national partner of USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee.