Homeless Youth Workout, Build Confidence

CrossFitIn Indianapolis, a nationally-known fitness program called CrossFit is engaging with homeless youth, helping them get in shape, and providing a natural connection point between those who are often on opposite sides of the law. Because the CrossFit unit in Indianapolis is an extension of the police department, officers who come to work out have frequent opportunities to engage with the young people that Outreach, Inc. (a non-profit that helps homeless youth) brings to the gym every week. These young people typically have had negative interactions with members of the law, but through CrossFit, perceptions are changing. 

“When they first started coming, they were all nervous because of the cops,” says Erin Wright, IFD private, who works at CrossFit and volunteers to help while the youth are working out. “There’s an ease now when they come in the door.”

More than that, CrossFit gives these young people a chance to push themselves harder than perhaps they’ve ever worked before–an experience that can often be the catalyst for personal transformation and a key to breaking cycles of helplessness and dependency. 

“It is amazing to see a young person who struggles in his or her value and worth to accomplish a tough workout of the day and not give up,” says Eric Howard, CEO of Outreach. “To recognize that they just completed something that they thought was impossible, this allows the conversation to occur about making choices to ‘give up’ or ‘give in.’ It focuses a young lady to realize she is stronger than what she realized. To go from selling yourself to survive to recognizing that you are stronger than that—is huge. The sense of community created is dynamic—like seeing youth go from being self-focused to cheering on another youth to finish the workout well!”

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