Lift for Life Mission & Introduction
In 1988, one man, Marshall Cohen, opened Lift for Life Gym in a modest cinderblock building at the corner of 14th and Cass Avenue with hopes to offer impoverished youth constructive, recreational opportunities as an alternative to idleness, crime, drugs, and violence. Almost 25 years later, Lift for Life Gym now serves over 300 of St. Louis City’s most underprivileged and under-resourced children and teens that must ward off negative influences on a daily basis.
Our mission is to offer St. Louis city children a safe and enriching environment in which to strengthen their bodies, enrich their minds, develop healthy social relationships and learn to make positive life choices. Our organization offers a wide variety of fitness, recreational, nutritional, artistic, academic, and personal growth programs year-round.
At Lift for Life Gym, staff recognizes that children’s health and wellness are multi-faceted issues. To effect long-lasting change in the lives of under-resourced youth, the mental and physical elements of well-being must be addressed simultaneously. The Gym’s programs and services are centered on the concept of “resiliency.” Through our “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds” project, we aid youth in the development of characteristics and coping skills that will help them succeed in life despite hardships and challenges.
Fitness services are the heart of Lift for Life Gym. These activities are meant to encourage kids to be persistent, build their athletic skill set and interact with other kids, and to be respectful. More specifically, the program has competitive Olympic-style weightlifting, middle school and high school age basketball teams, Zumba classes, and yoga classes, with many more options being created.
Our programs are generally offered Monday through Friday from 4 PM to 7 PM throughout the school year. During the summer months, the Gym is able to provide an outlet to daily life and opportunity for extra learning opportunities with “field trips.” Some examples include: sports camps, museum trips, live theatre experiences, and numerous arts and craft opportunities.
At Lift for Life Gym, we work with some of the most impoverished and under-served youth in St. Louis City. In an effort to take a holistic approach with the youth we see, we offer an array of programming above and beyond the fitness programming.
First and foremost we offer transportation to the Gym. Lift for Life Gym is located in an area with the highest crime rates and poverty rates in the city. Due to this, many of the youth are unable to find a safe or reliable way to reach the gym. By providing transportation, we ensure that our youth are safe and it encourages attendance.
Secondly, we offer our Evening Café and Cooking program. In North St. Louis City, grocery stores and healthy food options are rare and improbable for families to access. The Evening Café Service not only feeds those children the balanced meals that they require, but it also provides a sense of community around eating a meal with family and friends. We also offer lessons to provide the skills to prepare healthy meals in the future.
In an effort to encourage and strengthen our participant’s education, we have incorporated a computer and network homework center. The computer/media lab is a place for students to have a quiet place to complete homework assignments if they do not have access to a computer or the Internet at home.
Further expanding our youth’s horizons, we offer our “Star in Me” cultural enrichment program. This program is meant to highlight the artistic potential and creative strengths of individuals thereby raising their confidence and contributing to their future success.
More recently we began our youth supported community garden. Similar to a community garden, Lift for Life Gym members will help plant vegetables, flowers, shrubs, and herbs. This will help kids embrace a healthy lifestyle by cultivating food that will be eaten in the Evening Café.
Finally, we have recently created a new organizational strategic plan that outlines a rigorous set of fundraising and programming goals through 2015. We will continue to expand our programming, offering our youth the innovative and engaging options to encourage their growth. We are keeping our kids first as we help them learn to Lift their minds & bodies For Life.
Lift for Life Mission & Introduction