How Fitness Training Develops the Whole Child

Youth fitness is about more than just developing strength, skill, stamina, agility, and athleticism. Done right, a structured youth fitness program like the one Fit Kids offers can develop the total child, helping kids integrate their minds, bodies, and spirits.

So says Dr. Andrea Ettekal, assistant professor at Texas A&M University’s Applied Youth Development Initiative.
In this video conversation, Dr. Ettekal explains:
  • The overall value of out-of-school time as an opportunity to develop the total child
  • How physical fitness contributes to students becoming integral individuals and developing character
  • How coaches, administrators, volunteers, and other adult leaders in sports and fitness can leverage these opportunities
  • The unique challenges faced by children in underserved communities and those who have endured either acute trauma, such as abuse, or the longer-term traumas of poverty or systemic oppression
  • An understanding of how “failure” – even experienced while competing with oneself in a youth fitness program – helps children learn how to succeed
  • The importance of fun as a component that helps children gain all the benefits of a quality youth fitness program.

Fit Kids & Social-Emotional Learning

Many schools and community centers considering a Fit Kids partnership wonder about our organization’s take on social-emotional learning. Social-emotional learning has become one of the most important components of education, especially in light of how the pandemic affects children and their overall school and community center environments.

A pilot collaboration to introduce Fit Kids into Chicago Public Schools from Spring 2021 through Spring 2022 brought together Mary Rosenwinkel, Health Partnership Specialist for Communities in Schools of Chicago, with David Jacobson, Director of Program Growth and Communications for Fit Kids.

The two recently chatted about the social-emotional learning aspects of the Fit Kids program, which was available to 11 Chicago Public Schools, serving 2,114 students. In this eight-minute video they reveal how social-emotional learning opportunities are baked into the Fit Kids program, how some students intuitively respond to those opportunities, and how teachers and coaches can capitalize.

Even though the Fit Kids curriculum is not loaded with social-emotional-learning-speak, the program organically imparts lessons in resilience, confidence, determination, teamwork, and leadership.

Avellino, Fit Kids Team Up to Equip R.O.C.K Students

The good people of Avellino, providers of COVID tests and other medical products, recently invited Fit Kids to participate in a team-building event. At the end of an afternoon of bonding, six teams of Avellino employees faced off in a skateboard design and building competition.

That contest was spirited to say the least. Team members showed all the grit of Fit Kids youth participants navigating an obstacle course! The result was six beautiful, handmade skateboards gifted to Fit Kids, along with helmets, pads, and tools.

During the skateboard gift presentation, Avellino employees were thrilled to learn that their handiwork would land in the hands (and under the feet) of kids who otherwise would not have access to skateboard equipment.

Fit Kids determined the best home for the skateboards would be R.O.C.K. (Real Options for City Kids) in San Francisco. The organization and its students showed extreme gratitude for the gift from Fit Kids and Avellino, which R.O.C.K Marketing and Development Manager Hayley Walker called “a game-changer.”

The Rite Aid Foundation Gives to Fit Kids on Giving Tuesday

Rite Aid Foundation

The Rite Aid Foundation has generously gifted Fit Kids with a $10,000 grant as part of its annual Giving Tuesday grant award funded through Rite Aid’s KidCents customer round-up program.

“We are thrilled to receive this gift,” said Fit Kids Founder Ashley Hunter. “The funds will go a long way toward bringing our structured fitness program to many more children who need it. Rite Aid is doing right by the kids we reach with fitness resources they would otherwise lack.”

Fit Kids is one of nearly 500 partner charities across the country receiving a grant from The Rite Aid Foundation, which donated a total of $4.8 million on Giving Tuesday this year. “Fit Kids shares The Rite Aid Foundation’s caring commitment to creating healthier and more equitable neighborhoods,” said Matthew DeCamara, executive director of The Rite Aid Foundation, a public charity established by Rite Aid in 2001.

“All of our Giving Tuesday grant recipients address the profound realities of racial inequities and health disparities through their own ways and strategies – and have done it during an unprecedented public-health crisis that has significantly interrupted normal programming, fundraising events and daily operations. We’re grateful to support their important work and uplift our neighborhoods together.”

Cargill Continues Giving to Fit Kids

Long-time Fit Kids supporter Cargill, a major global food industry company, has come through with yet another gift, this one for $15,000, including $5,000 in matching funds from Cargill’s Minneapolis headquarters.

The company “always wants to support youth activities,” said Brian Luce, Senior Administrative Assistant and Contributions Coordinator, Cargill Salt. “Fit Kids is a great program that gets kids outside, building strong bodies and strong minds. Plus, we checked out the new videos for the program, and they were really cool.”

Fit Kids Founder Ashley Hunter expressed her gratitude for the donation. “Cargill gives so generously, and all of us at Fit Kids appreciate their support. This funding will go a long way toward helping the youth of Redwood City and surrounding areas thrive through our structured fitness programs.”