USA Gymnastics and Right To Play, a global organization that uses sport and play programs to educate and empower children facing adversity, recently joined forces to bring gymnastics and the opportunity to play to children across the United States. National Gymnastics Day is a natural vehicle to provide outreach to disadvantaged youth. With this year’s National Gymnastics Day less than two months away, USA Gymnastics is offering grants to USA Gymnastics member clubs that are creating special events to celebrate National Gymnastics Day and provide opportunities to children who currently do not have access to gymnastics.
“National Gymnastics Day has always been about promoting the sport and introducing gymnastics to kids and parents, as well as supporting a charity,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “Helping kids who do not have access to gymnastics or physical activity in general meets the objectives of both National Gymnastics Day and our new partnership with Right To Play. We are offering these grants to assist our member clubs in incorporating the goals of our partnership into their National Gymnastics Day plans.”
“Sport is a natural way to educate children and youth from disadvantaged communities about handling and overcoming adversity,” 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 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 as part of their charitable activities for National Gymnastics Day, scheduled for Sept. 21, 2013.
Some of the suggested activities for outreach to diverse and challenged communities include: hosting classes at a Boys & Girls Club or similar facility to educate after-school participants on the fundamentals of gymnastics and fitness; transporting participants from youth-serving organizations to the gymnastics club for an “open gym” with a USA Gymnastics Fitness Zone; volunteering as a coach for a week of classes at a school in an under-privileged neighborhood; staging a fundraising event for Right To Play; or creating a drop-off station for new and gently used sports equipment to share with programs or children in under-served areas in the local community.
A panel of USA Gymnastics and Right To Play representatives will review the grant requests and award up to 25 $1,000 grants. The application form for a grant is available online at usagym.org/ngd, and requests must be submitted by Aug. 15, 2013. Completed applications may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org; mailed to USA Gymnastics, 132 E. Washington Street, Suite 700. Indianapolis, IN 46204; or faxed to 317-237-5069.
The requirements for the grants 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 have a fitness theme; 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.
As part of the 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 – will serve as Right To Play Athlete Ambassadors and co-chairs of National Gymnastics Day. 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 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.
USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. Its mission is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in the sport. Its disciplines include men's and women's artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, acrobatic gymnastics and group gymnastics. For more information, log on to www.usagym.org.