One high school weight room in Chicago, Illinois has swapped mismatching dumbbells, and outdated fitness equipment for a brand new built out space.
Michele Clark High, located in Austin, a poor community in Chicago with an incredibly high crime rate was chosen by the Lift Life Foundation to undergo a complete weight room makeover. They mention in the video that sports have long been an integral piece to keeping kids off the streets, and for Michele Clark High, a space like the weight room could easily be a place that builds the students up and keeps them out of trouble.
The main drive behind creating a strong community at the school is Principal Charles Anderson. Anderson along with the school’s Athletic Director, Kevin Simmons, have been committed since the beginning to help all of their students grow, both in the classroom, out on the field — and of course — in the weight room. Michele Clark High submitted a video to the Lift Life Foundation showing the small gym space that all of the school’s athletic programs use, as well as including the voices of some of the kids and the teachers. Anderson closes out the submission video saying,
“Giving us the opportunity to have a new weight room would bring opportunities of exposure, change disparity, so as you look to this please remember Michele Clark, thank you.”
Lift Life Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by Bodybuilding.com that turns unsafe and poorly conditioned weight rooms in underfunded high schools into top notch facilities.
The Lift Life Foundation chose Michele Clark because they not only saw a space that needed a lot of work, but felt the pride and passion for growth within the school’s community. This project in particular was unique for Lift Life Foundation because they partnered with Optimum Nutrition, who is based in Chicago, to choose a gym within the local community.
The video takes you through the building process, starting with Anderson showing Lift Life Foundation the facility in person (4:33).
“I’m always looking for ways to encourage them, ways to excite them, ways to show them that they’re number one at this school,” Anderson says at 11:14 in the video. “For me, I wanted to build up the confidence of the students, make them proud of where they are and feel empowered to advocate for themselves. I also told them, ‘I want you to be able to understand how to play hard and work hard.'”
The final reveal lived up to expectations and more. The kids had no idea that the gym was going to be completely revived, but they certainly suspected something was up. When they finally saw their new, squeaky clean, fully equipped gym, there was screaming, there was crying, and there was a whole lot of motivation to get lifting. You can watch the final reveal and full reactions at 28:15 in the video.
From the staff at Michele Clark High, to the students, the gym looks to be just the beginning of the promising growth of this community.
Feature image from @liftlifefoundation Instagram page.