Youth Mentoring Partnership’s Friend Fitness Program, Supporting Youth Through ExerciseBy Peak Johnson |
The You+ series explores how Philadelphia based organizations are leveraging the talents and skills of people 50+ made possible by Coming of Age.
Khalif Younger, a graduate of Mastery Charter School, is a mentor in training at Friend Fitness thanks in part to his girlfriend who had introduced him to Coach Chris Major, director of Friend Fitness.
“I used to just come to the meetings with my girlfriend to show some support and run with them as well,” Younger said. “Coach Major was interested and intrigued in my character, so he asked me if I wanted to join him in this mentorship program and I took him up on his offer.”
During his first workout with Friend Fitness, Younger wasn’t sure if he could complete the required exercise routine.
With the positive reinforcement from Major, Younger kept going and persevering and was able to get through the manual resistance exercises.
“But you know, at this program, all they want you to do is give 100%,” Younger said. “If you can’t do it all, just try your best, don’t give up. That’s all they want from you is to not give up.”
The Youth Mentoring Partnership Friend Fitness Program, located at the Mastery Charter High School Shoemaker campus, commits itself to helping kids overcome formidable challenges and assist in forging character, building mental toughness, and mastering goal setting skills through intense physical fitness and sports.
The biggest thing about this program is helping the youth, Younger said. Another aspect for him is being able to mentor them at the program both personally and socially.
To Younger, being a mentor is one of the biggest opportunities and eye-opening experiences.
“A lot of my mentors, whether they were white or black, they taught me a lot in life,” he said. “And I would say they were one of my biggest aspects of changing my life around.”
Mentors on all levels
Friend Fitness had been recommended to Elizabeth Moffitt, a grandmother to one of the youth who attends the program presently.
To her, it had seemed like a good idea for kids, especially with their mission of helping youth set goals for themselves to overcome challenges.
“It’s infectious,” Moffitt said. “When you’re around a lot of positive people who are encouraging you, and not telling you what you are doing wrong, but encouraging you to do a little more.”
For Moffitt, just being around Major and the other staff at Friend Fitness, watching the support that they give each other and the support that they give the kids, has such a positive impact.
“I think there’s a need for mentors and this program on all different levels,” Moffitt continued. “We don’t have enough encouragement for kids to go to the gym and strengthen their body. A lot of kids don’t get someone that says, “you’re great. Look at what you’ve accomplished.”
For Younger, he is a firm believer that if he is able to assist one person, he can help more.
He works at Metro PCS and is a student at the Community College of Philadelphia, where he hopes to eventually attend the University of Sciences.
“Why stop at that one person? There are a lot more people, a lot more kids that I see that need a lot of help and guidance and not a lot of kids in this neighborhood have someone to look up to or talk to.”
Friend Fitness is not only for students of Mastery, but others within the community may attend the program as well — whether mentoring a young child or participating in exercising.
“We’re here for support,” Younger said. “If the [kids] need somebody to talk to, if they need somebody to just listen to them, we’re here for that. And we’re basically here as a stepping stone to lead them in the right direction.”
Photo via Youth Mentoring Partnershipblog comments powered by Disqus