Heavy Athletics: lifting with at-risk youth

Changing lives one rep at a time

Heavy Athletics helps incarcerated youth fulfill their potential, both physically and mentally, through Olympic weightlifting. Volunteer coaches work with incarcerated 12 to 18-year-olds six days a week, 52 weeks a year, in Oregon. They train, have meets, and sometimes take competitors to the next level of competition on the outside and then back in again as mentors.

Heavy Athletics is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Olympic Weightlifting training program at the John Serbu Juvenile Justice Center in Eugene, Oregon. The program was founded in 2001 by two-time National Olympic Weightlifting Champion and American Record Holder, Tom Hirtz.

"Each member of the Heavy Athletics program believes that heartfelt positive reinforcement from a trusted coach can make difference in thriving and surviving in the juvenile justice system."

What a great and unique thing. This strikes me as pure altruism borne of deep thought and personal philosophy. The fact that they have six coaches who do this year-round on a volunteer basis is impressive.

Records are for glory, lifting is for life

You can read the stats to see how people perform in their sports, but I'm more taken by deeper contexts that show who a person is through his sport. That's a complicated concept to explain, but this site has a lovely example; check out the deep moments from jail... my kind of poetry in the rough.

"We have found that Olympic style weightlifting, which requires timing, coordination and courage, is about a lot more than just how much weight we can get a kid to lift; it's about what a kid becomes as a result of lifting that weight," (presumably a Tom Hirtz quote).

Every little bit helps this kind of specialized program. To make a donation, visit the site or contact Heavy Athletics at (541) 953-7946.

1 comment:

Bobby said...

"what a kid becomes as a result" --right on.

Get the kids engaged in something.