Posted on October 10, 2016 by Steve's Club National Program
"The Accident In My Career I’m Grateful For" – a guest post by Sarah Sabella, EMT volunteer at Leadership Camp
My name is Sarah Sabella MICP, NREMT-P, CCEMT-P, FPC, FFI, Rescue Technician, Water Rescue Operations, CFL1. Yes, that's a lot of letters after my name. They represent 15 years of Emergency Medical Services experience.
The title of this blog post does not reflect a car crash or cardiac arrest, but a true "accident." Those letters earned me an opportunity I will forever be grateful for.
In the spring of 2015, Erin Kelly, co-owner of CrossFit 1Force, approached me while working out at her gym. She said that Steve's Club National Program (SCNP) was looking for an EMT for their summer Leadership Camp. No pay, sleep in the barracks, handle the bumps and bruises of 30 teenage kids, and work out a couple times a day in the heat of the summer. She thought I would be the girl for the job. If the SCNP staff only knew...
Of course I accepted!
My first year I kind of flew by the seat of my pants. I knew my only responsibility was to help a kid if they got hurt. But only after an hour or two I wanted to do more. I wanted to interact with the kids - their spirits were remarkable.
I had always supported Steve's Club as a Steve's PaleoGoods patron and Beat the Streets supporter. I already knew a couple of the kids from Steve's Club Camden but at Leadership Camp I was soon introduced to the extended "family" - 20+ other kids from all over the nation.
Every night at Camp there’s a time reserved for a "get to know you" sharing activity. By the second night, I could see there were kids that had so much to say, but couldn't. The volunteers and coaches were also asked to share. As the "new guy" I was a little apprehensive to raise my hand, just like some of the kids, but I did. That night I told the entire room what I saw in each and every one of them, and why the universe called me to be at Camp.
I was a "high risk youth" and knew what they were going through.
My entire childhood I grew up in an abusive home. Physically and emotionally abused daily, and given the responsibility of caring for my younger siblings that no child should have to bear. When I got to high school I ran out of excuses to cover for my home life, and I also started to fight back. My mother went to the courts and reported what was happening in our home. But I didn't get the treatment I expected. In fact, things got worse.
At 15, I was removed from my home and placed in a teen shelter. I was taunted, convinced to preform criminal acts, offered drugs and alcohol, and often heard inappropriate activities in neighboring rooms. But NOONE EVER KNEW! Since the shelter was in my hometown I was able to continue at the same high school, and I was good at hiding the trauma in my life.
The next few years of my life were spent gluing the pieces of my family back together. But 15 years of damage had already been done. Even now as an adult I still search every day for where I belong. Turns out that Steve's Club is where I belong. These kids are my family.
After listening to every heartbreaking story from these kids for the last two years at Camp, every one of them ends their story with "CrossFit saved my life." These are powerful transformations that start at Steve's Club. This program creates a family and sense of belonging, and not just for the kids but also for the coaches and volunteers involved.
I am an example that your childhood doesn't make you, and I want to share that with these kids. I was able to overcome my own challenges, and through CrossFit and Steve's Club I’ve found a way to give back.
Being a high-risk youth is a status, and in this day and age we change our "status" several times a day. The kids of Steve’s Club have the power to change their status!
Most people take vacations to places like the Caribbean or Disney. I spend my vacation in the woods of PA with 25 of the coolest, toughest, spirited young adults the CrossFit world is raising. And that's exactly what we are doing for these kids...raising them.
Being an EMT and guest coach at Leadership Camp is one of the most meaningful experiences I've ever had. It's where I will always long to be. I want to thank Steve's Club for this opportunity that I hope to continue every year.
Posted on September 16, 2016 by Steve's Club National Program
A lot of times it's easier, sometimes better, to blend in rather than to stand out.
A human being who stood in the middle of the savannah amongst the lions, tigers, and bears probably doesn't have many descendants today.
Armies spend millions of dollars creating the best camouflage for their soldiers.
People walk into a classroom and head for the furthest seat from the teacher in fear of being call on.
It's a survival tactic.
Similarly, Kleymer, a 15-year-old from Steve's Club Nashville, wanted to blend into her surroundings rather than stand out when she first arrived at Rebecca Brown's gym in Nashville (SC Nashville is hosted by CrossFit Gulch). She was very quiet, fought at school, and was carrying some pent-up emotions. She had a very hard time trusting anyone she didn't know.
According to Coach Rebecca, "Kleymer struggled with her confidence initially, especially when meeting new people. She could be outspoken, outgoing, and energetic around those she knew. But around strangers, you may not hear her say word."
That is until she walked into the gym 9 months ago. Since then, Coach Brown has seen a tremendous change in Kleymer physically, mentally, and emotionally.
"When Kleymer first started working out here, she lacked a little determination and grit to push through the tougher workouts. Now, not only is she powering through her own workouts, but she is encouraging others, her friends, and her family to get through their own workouts," said Brown, who founded SC Nashville in 2012.
One of the biggest areas of improvement that both Kleymer and Coach Brown notice is in Kleymer's leadership abilities. While Coach Brown notices it around the gym when Kleymer volunteers to help another teen with their deadlift form (Kleymer's favorite lift), Kleymer has noticed it the most in her home life. "I feel the change everyday. I've taken on a bigger leadership role at home. I encourage my family to live a healthier lifestyle, get more involved at the gym, and live an overall more fulfilling life," Kleymer said proudly.
While she has begun to see the changes take hold with her immediate family, it's the people at the gym that she credits for a lot of her personal improvements. "It's like my second family here. Since joining CrossFit, I'm so much calmer. I haven't fought with anyone and, instead, I find myself more relaxed, focused, and dedicated to everything that I do. I've learned how to be a better leader, how to motivate others, and the power of self-talk," Kleymer paused.
"I think that may be one of the most important lessons that I've learned. I no longer talk down to myself, and I certainly don't let anyone else talk down to me. I hold myself, and those around me, to high expectations regardless of what people outside our family believe."
Kleymer credits Coach Rebecca for many of the life-altering changes she has seen in her own life. When faced with two different paths, Kleymer opted to take a different path than many of her peers. Her path has led her to CrossFit, leadership, and personal improvement, while many of those whom she grew up with have opted for sex, drugs, and gangs. These are all things that are not in short supply in her neighborhood.
"I just stay out of it by going to CrossFit. Rebecca has let me make Steve's Club Nashville my home. I will stay there for hours. I get through so many life problems by going there and talking with Rebecca. We talk about everything."
Now, the girl who walked into the gym uncomfortable in her own skin, shy around strangers, and unsure of her own capabilities, walks out each day full of pride, passion, and appreciation with a new family behind her.
Help us continue to support more kids like Kleymer and start Steve’s Club programs in the cities that need them the most. Consider hosting our BEAT THE STREETS suggested donation partner workout, or donate here.
Also, to receive more inspiring stories about kids like Kleymer, sign up for our newsletter here and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. To learn how you can start a Steve’s Club in your own community, click here.
Posted on September 14, 2016 by Steve's Club National Program
Do you remember the first time you hit a major PR?
It may not have been a lot of weight compared to the experienced CrossFitter next to you. It may not have been the prettiest lift in the world. It may not have even been seen by anyone else. None of that mattered.
Nothing could stop you from feeling like you were walking on air. It left you feeling like a totally different person - a more self-assured version of the person who had walked into the gym a short time earlier.
That’s exactly the feeling Liric, a 12-year-old from Chattanooga, TN, got when she nailed a 105-pound clean and jerk for the first time. "The feeling you get after hitting a big lift, the sense of accomplishment, there is nothing like it,” said Liric.
“After I did that, my confidence level went way up. It helped me begin to encourage myself through challenges, but also my peers. Now when I see others struggling with a concept in school, or a lift at CrossFit, I can help them much easier with my new leadership skills and confidence.”
She even credits CrossFit with boosting her social skills. “Before joining Unbroken Kids [a Steve’s Club program hosted by CrossFit Brigade], I was a very shy person. Through Steve's Club I became this very outgoing, confident person. CrossFit changed my whole personality."
Liric, one of the 22 at-risk teens selected to participate in Steve’s Club Leadership Camp this summer, made an impression before even showing up. Athletes submit applications to attend Camp that include an athlete profile, coach recommendations, and a personal essay. Where many kids wrote short paragraphs explaining what CrossFit meant to them, Liric felt as though she may not have enough time, or space, to explain how much CrossFit has meant to her life.
“The long paragraphs weren’t something I did consciously. I just set out to write how CrossFit has helped me, how CrossFit has affected me and my leadership in the gym and other places, such as school, and that is what came out.”
“I view myself as a leader now. Before, I didn’t have the self-confidence to step in when I saw someone struggling. It’s totally different now. I have no problem speaking up and helping someone I see in need,” Liric said proudly.
By exposing more kids to the positive disciplines of CrossFit, we provide an opportunity for kids to get off the streets and become leaders among their peers.
Donations allow us to reach more kids like Liric by starting Steve’s Club programs in the cities that need them the most.
An easy way to raise money for Steve's Club is by hosting our BEAT THE STREETS Fundraiser. Through this Suggested Donation Partner WOD, you can help us expand our reach. To schedule your BEAT THE STREETS Fundraiser, check out the WOD, and hosting details, click here.
To learn how you can start your own Steve’s Club in your community, click here.
Posted on September 12, 2016 by Steve's Club National Program
“Mentally, things aren’t even close to how they used to be. Steve’s Club has helped me relieve so much stress and anger.”
Blake said as he reflected on his personal change since joining Steve’s Club Team Fearless in Belton, Texas.
“I used to get in trouble. A lot. It was all about the people I was around. When I was with them, I had a real problem with obedience. But once I joined Steve’s Club and began to learn who I could become, I began to separate myself from them and hang out with people who do the right things. It’s made a huge difference.”
Throughout his time at Steve’s Club Team Fearless, a program hosted by CrossFit CenTex, Blake has learned that he is capable of a lot more than he had ever imagined.
With college now on the radar, Blake set his sights on the upcoming football season to put many of his newfound skills, both mental and physical, to work.
“I’m really excited for football to start this year. Steve’s Club has me feeling more prepared than ever before, physically, but especially mentally. In CrossFit, there are a bunch of mental hurdles we have to push through. I hear the voice in my head yelling, ‘Stop! Stop!’, but I know I have to keep pushing forward.”
“I do a lot of this for my family and friends. I have a phrase that really helps me push through the hardest times. It’s ‘Remember who you’re doing this for.’ It helps remind me of all the people I care about, all the happy memories, and makes it much easier for me to keep pushing ahead.”
Blake was one of 22 teens selected to spend a week at the Steve's Club Leadership Camp to learn the skills necessary to become successful individually and as a teammate. Blake and the other athletes were chosen to attend Camp through a selection process that placed a high emphasis on commitment, embodiment of the SNCP values, and potential to be role models in their Local Clubs back home.
Mental toughness and self-motivation were some of Blake's strengths while at Camp, but he brought even more than that to the weeklong event. With an infectious smile and an upbeat demeanor, he has found many of his teammates look to him for guidance and inspiration.
This unfamiliar role caught Blake a little bit off guard. As a 14-year-old, he was one of the younger teens at Camp and, as with many young teenagers, it takes Blake a little while to feel comfortable around new people.
Pushed out of his comfort zone, Blake realized he did have something to share with his fellow teens.
“Being a leader is a big responsibility,” Blake said. “But I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that I’ve been a big inspiration to them, which has been such an awesome feeling. It was not something that I was used to or planned to do, but it’s something that just happened as my confidence grew during Camp.”
Much of this newfound confidence may be attributed to the moment when Blake overcame his fear of heights on the obstacle course. His fear was well known throughout Camp. As he approached the rope ladder that towered above him, many were left wondering what would happen.
With each rung, Blake climbed one step closer to the top of the obstacle, and one step closer to conquering his fear.
“The challenges we faced at Camp made that possible. Each challenge I’ve overcome helps build momentum to where I can accomplish something major, like overcoming my fear of heights,” Blake said, beaming.
As he made his way back down, his now famous smile lit up. A cue to his peers that they, too, could overcome the fears they were facing, in the gym and in everyday life.
Find out how you can support more kids like Blake through our Suggested Donation workout. Host our Beat the Streets Fundraiser at your gym, read more here.
Also, to receive more stories about kids like Blake overcoming huge challenges, sign up for our newsletter here and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for inspiring updates about those involved with Steve’s Club.
Posted on September 06, 2016 by Steve's Club National Program
Whether it’s a movement in the gym, a relationship with a loved one, or venture in the real world, most of us have a much easier time remembering our failures, and how they hurt, over our successes.
Even though people talk about it, battle it, and hate it, we need it.
• Abraham Lincoln failed campaigning seven times before becoming President
• Thomas Edison failed to create the light bulb 10,000 different times
• Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team
Failing at a task is a disheartening moment no matter who you are, or what you were trying to accomplish.
But according to Cherie Chan, a member of CrossFit HQ who has led over a hundred L1 and coaches prep courses, failure is absolutely necessary to achieve your goals.
“Failure is the key to success. It is the road to success. Without failure, you will simply not accomplish the goals you set out to achieve,” Chan told the at-risk teens recently at Leadership Camp.
At Camp, Chan led a hike and workout in the woods during which she taught the 22 teens in attendance some valuable life lessons.
Along with embracing failure, Chan, talked to them on how to combat one of the most common traits of human beings: greed.
“Greed is an enemy to your own success,” Chan shared. “One of the best ways to combat that feeling of greed, a feeling we all get from time to time, is to give back when you feel it coming on.”
Chan, who feels indebted to CrossFit for many of the blessings in her life, aims to give back so others can experience the same joy, happiness, and fulfillment she has experienced.
“This community has given so much to me and my family,” Chan, a two-time CrossFit Games competitor and CrossFit commentator, said. “This is only one small way to pay it forward.”
“These kids made an impression on me the moment I walked into the dining hall. Their receptiveness to learning, teamwork and respect is unbelievable. It is leaps and bounds ahead of many other communities that I work with.”
One of the things Chan noticed, echoed by all of the coaches involved in Camp, is the confidence displayed by the at-risk teens.
“These kids have the confidence to walk up to a complete stranger and ask a question. That is such an overlooked, but crucial life skill. It’s important to be able to say, ‘Hey, I don’t know but I want to learn, would you help me? In doing so, they admit they are not too proud to be vulnerable in order to improve. They are unafraid of failure.”
Failure is something these at-risk teens face everyday in their lives, and maybe they've become more comfortable with it than the rest of us - which is an advantage on the road to success. As they learn to overcome challenges, they grow their capacity to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Through the lessons learned at Steve’s Club Leadership Camp, they are more prepared than ever to embrace, accept, and utilize failure to become even better human beings. This perseverance and grit in the face of difficulty is one of the main contributing factors to future success.
Cherie and other Guest Coaches volunteer their time to work with these at-risk teens because of the potential they see in them as individuals and also what it means for society. These kids are part of the CrossFit community and will become tomorrow’s leaders - thereby helping to change their own communities and make the world a better place.
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