When we began our program in September, 2011, we set out on a journey that began with 23 K/1st graders in one classroom at the McGill School of Success. In meeting once a week for 45 minutes at a time, we began to develop a curriculum that ultimately created a standards-based Physical Education template for grades K-6. What began as a 100% volunteer program with financial support from Pilates Plus San Diego and minimal donations ultimately became the 501(c)3 called Youth to the Core.
After a successful first year, we established a 3 year commitment with McGill in September of 2012 with the school paying $500 per month to implement this PE and Health Education program. Utilizing the curriculum we developed in our first year as the teaching tool we increased enrollment to 64 students in 1st and 2nd grades meeting twice a week with each class, moved the program to a larger area, received donations to purchase exercise mats, anatomy skeleton, foam rollers, balance discs, exercise balls and even added a garden.
Over the next year, written, drawing and practical tests were designed to fit each grade level and administered throughout the year, we further developed our lesson plan to adhere to multiple state standards for grades K-6 and ultimately provided each student uniform t-shirts and water bottles. Donations also continued to be raised from the garden harvest.
In September 2013 we expanded the program to Transitional Kindergarten and 3rd grade and grew our capacity to 81 students. In-class assignment notebooks, take home projects and flash cards were implemented into the program to solidify the hard and soft skills that the students were learning through the year. Fitness assessments were modified and support for the program continued from Pilates Plus San Diego and we held an additional art show as a fundraiser.
In 2014 we added another school and grew our capacity at McGill yet again and we now have 137 T/K-3 students at McGill and 170 T/K-5 at Cadman Elementary for a total of 307 students using 3 volunteer educators from Pilates Plus San Diego. McGill School is now one 45 minute class per week for each classroom with an assistant educator that also works with the students during recess and the before and after school programs using the recess flashcards as reinforcement. Cadman allows one 30 minute session for each class per week and will implement the recess cards after winter break.
This year, our data collection will be sent to the University of Kansas for analysis and to verify our prediction that there is a strong correlation between fitness and academic achievement. Once these conclusions are made the University of Kansas will begin to write grants that will hopefully create significant funding opportunities for Youth to the Core.
Irrespective of these results and these grants, we’re now looking to the future and toward the strategic growth of the organization. To help us in this goal, we are continuing to develop our board of directors, have implemented a give or get policy for all new board members, have established an advisory board and have and continue to organize speaking events to bring awareness to the organization. To end the current year, we have 2 fundraising events planned and are in discussions with a local grant writer assist with small grant opportunities (typically between $1,000-$5,000).
The past four years have shown us that we have great potential and the next five years could bring terrific returns to the organization and the community if we are all on the same page with the same passion.