Posted on February 16, 2017 by Steve's Club National Program
One of the great things about the Steve’s Club model is that it can adapt to the needs and resources of different communities around the country. In Denver, they built their program from the interests of their founder and founding board, the volunteerism and financial resources of a nearby community, and some of the highest needs kids from their corner of the city. The combination of variables produced one of the larger and fastest growing clubs in the Steve’s Club family.
Within parameters set down by the National Program, each Local Club can decide who they work with and what at-risk population they will serve. In Denver, the founders want to pull from their immediate community, while also serving kids with high mental health needs. In partnership with Third Way Centers, an area non-profit providing housing and treatment to teens, Steve’s Club Denver (SCD) works with 3 different types of athletes in treatment.
For one, they send coaches twice a week to a locked residential treatment center and these athletes are considered higher risk for their recent history of neglect, abuse, or legal problems. Secondly, they work with more stable teens who attend a school run by Third Way and access CrossFit Broadway, or who live in Third Way group homes and workout at Project Rise Fitness-Stapleton. These students have staff with them at all times, but are farther along in their treatment than those in the locked facility. The third type of participant is an older adolescent, living in an apartment run by Third Way, and attending workouts at CrossFit Broadway.
“Since our start, we’ve wanted to follow students within Third Way from their highest risk, to their most stable. This way, Steve’s Club gets to be a consistent part of their week, every week, regardless of where they go next with their treatment.” Duncan Seawell, a clinical psychologist and the founder of SCD, takes great pride in the fact that teens within this part of his program have the benefits of consistent high intensity exercise, consistent adults as coaches and mentors, and consistent positive peer culture within workouts.
“If we know consistency is a key ingredient in healthy child development, why not mix it in with other essential ingredients like effective workouts, healthy relationships, and the good time we all enjoy by working out with our friends.”
The Denver Club is successful in a number of ways and for different reasons. Throughout their development, however, they have proven a key piece of the National Program philosophy shared by all locations: Give Local Clubs the opportunity and freedom to work with who they want and they will find a way to build an effective program for at-risk teens.
Learn more about how to start a Local Steve's Club in your community HERE.
Posted on November 28, 2016 by Steve's Club National Program
Most of us don’t have a very vivid memory of our childhoods, especially the very early years. But what does it mean when you are 17 years old and can’t remember things that occurred only a few short years before?
It’s not amnesia. It’s not due to any physical injury. It’s another kind of trauma. The type of trauma that comes from dealing with your mother overdosing on drugs. “I don’t really remember where I grew up. Somewhere in the country. I kind of grew up all over. My mom wasn’t really in my life, but when she was, it really just wasn’t pleasant,” shared Tommy, an athlete at Steve's Club Nashville.
Tommy’s reaction to his mother’s passing, while not ideal, is understandable. After his mother passed, Tommy made a lot of bad decisions. He acted out as many teenagers would have, and do. “I fell into a lot of bad habits, a lot of which involved drugs.” Tommy, who had to be dragged to Steve’s Club Nashville by his dad, was described by Coach Rebecca as “sullen, quiet, and aloof” in his earliest days before he embarked on a transformation that brought him around 180 degrees.
“Tommy arrived and didn’t really speak. His dad was bringing him in because Tommy was acting up and he didn’t really know what else to do with him. That was about three and a half years ago. About a year into it, he really began to change. He went from that quiet, sullen kid to a happier, more open kid,” Rebecca beamed. “Now he helps the other kids, cheers them on, and even goes out of his way to help clean up equipment without being asked." I think we all know how hard it is to get teenagers to clean up anything.
Tommy, admittedly, was heading down the wrong path, but found CrossFit in time to redirect his negative energy into a positive influence in his life and turn things around. He plans to enlist in the Marines after graduation in the spring of 2017. “I just found a better way to express myself. I realized that I can be who I really am, and be more open in front of others. I also realized that maybe it’s not about fitting in, but maybe it’s all about standing out,” Tommy said thoughtfully.
“There have been quite a few times I’ve been put down in my life. People always want to put a label on you, and that’s fine, people are always going to talk about you because they want something to talk about. That drives me to keep going, to get better, to be the best, because then, that’ll give them something to talk about, being the best.”
But Tommy now realizes something that he did not before. After his mother passed, he went on a search. He was searching for happiness. And no matter where he looked, or which drug he tried, he couldn’t find what he was looking for, until Steve’s Club. “I began to realize after a few weeks of coming to Steve’s Club that the high you get from drugs, that “happiness”, can be found naturally. And that’s what I’ve found with CrossFit and Steve’s Club,” Tommy said.
“It’s helped me so much mentally, physically, and emotionally. The workouts are hard, but fun, then you start challenging yourself. Then you start doing things you couldn’t do before, overcoming challenges, and it keeps you coming back.”
Tommy understands the impact and change Steve’s Club and CrossFit has had on his life and has turned into a recruiter at school. “There’s really not much not to like. I tell everyone that they have to try it. It’s free, it’s fun, but the community is what is truly incredible. Everybody gets down at certain points, whether it’s in a workout or in life. But at Steve’s Club we are all pulling for each other, and that’s made a huge difference for me.”
If you'd like to start a Steve's Club in your community to provide a safe and nurturing environment for kids like Tommy, learn more here.
If you want to help us reach more kids like Tommy in other cities nationwide, we rely on donations to expand our program and start more Steve's Clubs. Join us in making a difference!
Posted on November 28, 2016 by Steve's Club National Program
Most 14-year-olds enjoy sleeping in, avoid doing hard work, and need to be told what to do. Elijah from Steve's Club Louisville in Kentucky is different. He was the very first athlete to join this new chapter of Steve's Club in March of 2016.
"Elijah saw the story the local news ran about our gym and called me immediately. We spoke for about 20 minutes that night. And he showed up on our doorstep before we were even open at 7:30 in the morning. He's a pretty cool kid," said Local Club founder Nicole Harp. "He just loved being involved from Day 1. He was showing up anywhere and everywhere. He even did our ribbon cutting at the Grand Opening."
"Before Steve's Club, I was a couch potato. I would just sit there, watch TV, and not do anything all day. Now if I had to give advice to that kid sitting there on that couch, I would tell him to get up, get going, and get to Steve's Club," Elijah shared. "The changes that I have seen within myself physically and mentally have been amazing. I'm way more strong physically, but mentally, I'm much, much stronger. I used to be thinking about the wrong things all the time, that's just not the case anymore."
Steve's Club Louisville, located in the lowest socioeconomic area of Louisville, Kentucky, is not in a neighborhood that makes it easy on a kid, or offers a lot of opportunity. Violent crimes there are 6.32 on average per 1,000 residents, compared to the national average of 3.8 which makes it one of the more dangerous places to live in the US. There are 53 crimes per square mile there, compared to 33 as a national average.
Regardless, Elijah makes the most of it. Using his bike to get around, Elijah puts in regular shifts at Wendy's, is in the JROTC, and is an everyday member at his Local Steve's Club.
"He's already seen some massive improvement. He looks way more fit. He's a completely different kid. Personal accountability has been a huge issue for him, but it's something we're working on and he has been willing to work on to get better," Harp said.
One major learning opportunity for Elijah was something many teens face throughout their time in school - a failed test. The teacher asked Elijah to come in early to school to remedy the situation and figure out a way to improve his grades. Unfortunately, he tried to sweep it under the rug and not tell his mother about it. Like many teens, he thought he could try to fix it on his own.
Elijah came to Coach Harp asking for a ride to school early one morning. Harp, a former member of the military, sensed something was up, and knew she had to receive permission from Elijah's mom to provide the transportation, so she made Elijah call his mother to come clean. Elijah took care of the situation and learned a valuable lesson. It is best to confront problems head on instead of trying to dance around them because they will eventually catch up to you, one way or another. That's what our Steve's Club coaches and volunteers are there for - to be another caring influence and keep them on the right path.
"I learned a ton from that situation, and I think that is a great example of just one of the many lessons that I've learned since joining Steve's Club," Elijah said. "There are going to be difficult times throughout your life, but putting them off, avoiding them, or hiding from them is only going to make them worse in the long run."
Elijah, a self-described goofball, has used these lessons to turn into one of the leaders at his Local Club. "He works so well with all the new kids that come in," Harp described. "Over the last month or so, we've probably had 10-15 kids join and he has been a huge help for them. He's great with teaching them and making them feel welcomed and involved."
"I just love the environment at Steve's Club. From Day 1, it has felt like family. That's what I try to tell all the kids I try to recruit to come to Steve's Club. It will 100% make you a more improved version of yourself, and it provides a sense of belonging. A sense of family," Elijah said proudly.
Steve's Club is a network of chapters across the country that provides fitness, nutrition, and mentorship to at-risk youth. To learn more about Steve's Club Louisville and other Local Clubs across the nation, click here.
Posted on October 24, 2016 by Steve's Club National Program
Physical Changes Are Easy To See: The Real Change Takes Place Below The Surface
Physical changes are easy to notice. Someone starts working out, or begins eating differently, and after a couple months, it’s very easy to see.
What most people don’t notice are the internal changes as one undergoes changes mentally and emotionally. That is what drew Aimee Lyons to CrossFit. In 2008, after a friend introduced her to CrossFit she experienced a huge change in her confidence levels that helped her approach life situations differently.
Since getting started in CrossFit, she’s dove in wholeheartedly. Aimee now holds her L4 certification, is a member of the CrossFit Seminar Staff, owner of CrossFit King of Prussia in PA, and runs a Local Steve’s Club (Steve’s Club King of Prussia).
“There is no doubt that CrossFit changes lives. From changes in body composition and blood work to the changes one experiences mentally after pushing themselves further than they ever imagined they could. All of these experiences, after happening again and again, begin to transfer to everyday life situations outside of the gym,” said Lyons.
For this reason, after seeing the impact CrossFit had on her personally, and those around her, Aimee knew she had to get involved with Steve’s Club after meeting Steve Liberati, founder of the original Steve’s Club in Camden, NJ, and seeing the impact he was having with the at-risk youth there.
“I was inspired right away. I visited a few times to see how they ran the program and volunteered some time to help, but it was evident that we could create our own program at CrossFit King of Prussia and that was a huge goal of mine,” Lyons, a 4-time CrossFit Games Regional competitor, shared.
And that goal became a reality in 2011 when Lyons and her team held their first Steve’s Club class. “To shape the lives of kids who are growing up less fortunate was an opportunity that I could not pass up. If we could provide role models for these underprivileged youth through the CrossFit community, and show them what values we hold, they will be able to take this confidence, positive attitude, and leadership out into the real world to attain opportunities that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.”
This hard work, sweat, and determination paid off for Lyons and her team when she began to see her first group of kids improving their SAT and ACT scores through CrossFit King of Prussia’s SAT prep program before going on to college. “I think one of the moments that it paid off is when we began to see our kids move on to college. These were the same kids who were choosing to not even attend SAT classes only a short time earlier. This huge shift in personality, making right choices over wrong, is 100% due to CrossFit, Steve’s Club, and the positive mentors within our community.
Steve’s Club King of Prussia has been the catalyst for change through its support of teens like Tre, who has attended Leadership Camp several years in a row, and the young twins Jayden and Davin who were abandoned by their mother, and promptly adopted by members of CrossFit KoP, Lisa and Chris Agnew. Both have been integrated into the CrossFit KoP community, and thanks to Steve's Club they've flourished.
If you want to help youth through CrossFit, consider starting a Local Club in your community - we can get you set up quickly and easily so you can start training kids right away!
To help us add more Local Clubs like Steve's Club KoP to our national network, please donate here. Each new Club works with kids and teens in their local community to break the negative cycle and create leaders from within.
Posted on October 03, 2016 by Steve's Club National Program
Two-time Olympic Competitor
9-time National Champion
Pan-American Games Gold Medalist
American Record Holder in the Clean and Jerk at the 77-kilogram weight class
What prompts someone with these credentials to get involved with Steve's Club and give back to the CrossFit community?
Chad Vaughn was born with a clubfoot, meaning his foot was developing to the side. After surgeries to correct this, he was left in a cast for the first year of his life. Because of this setback, Chad Vaughn's right calf is half the size of his left and lacks flexibility, but has created a more mentally tough human being. He knows the meaning of a setback.
Throughout all of the highs and lows, a tough childhood being "different", and many other failures along the way, Chad Vaughn has chosen to embrace his deficiencies, weaknesses, and failures to grow and come out stronger on the other side.
This is exactly why he loves being involved with Steve's Club. "We all have stuff that will knock us down in life. That part is certain and out of our control. How we react is the part that we can control. We can choose to either learn, improve, and grow from these setbacks, or we can be held down by them," Vaughn said.
"At Steve's Club, there is such an opportunity to do good. I like to see change in people, whether that is physical, mental, or emotional. By being involved with Steve's Club and CrossFit, I am able to provide these kids with something to do, someone to be, and a community," Vaughn noted wisely. "Family is a word that constantly comes up. Many of these kids didn't have that love before. And because it has impacted them so strongly, many of them feel the desire to stay involved and give back to their own communities by bringing more people into the CrossFit community to embrace the lessons one learns here."
As mentioned before, Vaughn is no stranger to setbacks. He acknowledges that he has failed way more than he has succeeded. But what has made him a success is that he continued to show up. "I've missed big lifts in competition. I've had competitions where I haven't hit a single lift. These things happen and they are so difficult to deal with at the time. But if you attack them head on, you will always come out as a better person on the other side. That is what I'm hoping to teach these kids."
Vaughn, who works with at-risk teens at Steve's Club Team Fearless in Belton ,TX (hosted by CrossFit CenTex) knows that it is difficult for any human being to change, especially mentally. But his advice to promote change with kids is to pick one area, your biggest weakness, and attack it with vigor. It is difficult to make large-scale changes, but by attacking that one weakness, most will see improvement in other areas.
"I like to use CrossFit as an example. There are millions of movements to choose from, but if you tried to focus on them all, you'd see little to no improvement. But if you approached one movement with total focus, you would improve greatly and see improvements in many other aspects of your CrossFit abilities. It is the same with life," Vaughn said.
"And it's funny. As much as I try to provide wisdom to these kids, ranging from CrossFit to life advice, it's incredible how much I've learned from them and been reminded of some very important life lessons myself. I think, sometimes, as adults we can start living life so quickly that we can forget some pretty simple, but extremely important life lessons. Working with these kids has really helped to keep life in a much better perspective for me personally to continue to grow as an adult," Vaughn remarked smiling.
To learn more about how Chad volunteers his time to help at-risk youth, click here.
If you'd like to give the gift of fitness to at-risk youth, you can:
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