In the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents, with the prevalence highest amongst low-income Hispanic families. Although this startling statistic is a “known”, the degree in which communities are able to make an impact in changing these behaviors, as well as providing ample resources for change, is little to none. Knowing this, founder and CEO Shae Gawlak of Fit2beKids, knew there had to be a change. After ten years of spousal abuse, financial, mental, and emotional hardship, Shae became part of the “system”, where in which she saw first hand the desperation in these mother’s eyes, the lack of nutrition education and physical activity in these children’s lives, and the struggle on a daily basis for these families to simply put a wholesome meal on the table. Without knowing why or how, Shae opened up her ears and her heart to her calling - a calling to make a change in the lives of these families who so desperately needed her. But this calling wasn’t typical. It wasn’t to create another “after school program”, or to start up a recreation league where there would be fees and dues. This calling was to provide something for the entire family. To provide a place where children would be engaged in physical activity, while their parents were educated about nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To provide a safe haven for children who experienced mental, emotional, and physical abuse. To provide acceptance for children with special needs. To provide an opportunity for children to learn organized sport without paying a dime. To provide an environment where there is constant support, where there is constant engagement, but most importantly, where there is constant love.
This is Fit2beKids. A place where every family and child is welcome, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. A place where families are provided the resources they need to thrive, all at no-cost. A place where not only are the children we work with in need, but where they in turn, are taught about “giving back” to those less fortunate than them. A place dedicated to empowering at-risk youth to live physically-, mentally- and emotionally- balanced lives. A place called home to each and every one of the families we embrace.
So what inspires me to give to Fit2beKids you ask? What inspires me to volunteer 20+ hours a week to building this grass-roots non-profit? What inspires me to donate my time, money, and sweat on a daily basis?
What inspires me are the beautiful little faces of each and every one of those children that step foot in the park each Saturday, ready and willing to take on a new challenge that Coach Jennifer has instructed. What inspires me are the mothers who have lost over 100lbs under the nutrition guidance of Coach Shae. What inspires me are the children who were once excluded from organized recreational sports, whom are now welcomed and thriving amongst their peers because of Coach Bill. What inspires me are the people. The people behind Fit2beKids who heard their calling just as Shae did. The people like myself, who believe that each and every child deserves a chance in this world, and know it is up to us to make a difference."
-- Summer Goebel
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