INDIANAPOLIS, July 28, 2014 – USA Gymnastics and Right To Play, a global organization that uses sport and play programs to educate and empower children facing adversity, are offering grants to USA Gymnastics member clubs that are creating special events to celebrate National Gymnastics Day that provide opportunities to children who currently do not have access to gymnastics. Scheduled for Sept. 20, 2014, National Gymnastics Day is a natural platform to expose disadvantaged youth to gymnastics.
“Last year’s clubs did an incredible job in staging events to help underprivileged kids, which is why Right to Play and USA Gymnastics are again offering event assistance grants,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “Gymnastics is such a great foundation for young people, including learning lessons that will help them throughout their lives. I am proud of the gymnastics community’s outreach in 2013, and I know that we will reach even more kids this year.”
“Play-based learning is critical for young children,” said Johann Olav Koss, a four-time Olympic gold-medalist speedskater, as well as founder and CEO of Right To Play. “These grants will provide ways for the gymnastics community to engage children and young adults in learning life skills through gymnastics-based play activities.”
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.
The grants are intended to allow member clubs to create innovative programs and initiatives to increase gymnastics’ exposure and accessibility to children from disadvantaged or lower-income families. 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.
A few of the successful programs from last year included: Los Angeles’ Broadway Gymnastics School offered a free “Fitness is Fun” gymnastics workout to 50 economically disadvantaged children from Citizens of the World Charter in Mar Vista; Elite Sports Complex in Downers Grove, Ill., worked with local youth social services to provide 250 children and their parents with live gymnastics demonstrations, the chance to learn and practice gymnastics skills and understand the importance of fitness and nutrition, with six children receiving class scholarships; Freehold (N.J.) Gymnastics Club hosted a free day of gymnastics and fun for underprivileged kids, including distributing nutritious snacks and nutritional handouts; Berks East Gymnastics took its Tumblebus on the road for a day to build awareness of gymnastics, healthy and active living, including a hands-on, interactive experience to students, teachers and parents; and Pinnacle Gymnastics of Sandy, Utah, gave 60 children from refugee families the opportunity to participate in three, two-hour classes each week for a year.
A panel of USA Gymnastics and Right To Play representatives will review the grant requests and determine this year’s recipients. The online grant application form is available at usagym.org/ngd, and requests must be submitted by Aug. 11, 2014. Any questions should be sent to [email protected].
The grant requirements are: the applicant must be a USA Gymnastics member club; the funds must be allocated solely toward the execution of the approved activities, which must be staged in conjunction with National Gymnastics Day; the events must include a game or activity using gymnastics skills to teach a life lesson; plans and status updates must be communicated to USA Gymnastics throughout the promotion and execution periods; and a follow-up report, including financial accounting and photos, must be submitted to USA Gymnastics within 30 days of implementation.
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 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.