By Pat Maurer
When Tony Demasi of Goldman Legal Advisors came to Randy Hale, owner of Clare Health and Fitness, with an idea for an after school program for youngsters and possibly a community center for Clare, Hale immediately got on board.
The two men put together a ten-member committee and have just formed a non-profit organization to raise funds, apply for grants and start “Kids On The Move”, a daily after school program during the school year. “What do kids have to do after school?” Hale asked. “There’s a real need to give them something to do.”
Their goal is to eventually raise enough to build that community center in the city, something friend and fellow business owner Jim Paetschow is helping them with.
Meantime they are working and developing the new program for area youngsters.
“Kids On The Move is the offshoot of some after school boot camps and exercise programs we have had for kids before,” Hale said. He said, “We already offer a daily morning fitness program for kids from age 12 to 15 and have X-Fitness at 8:15 a.m. every day for high school kids through adults. This will be a more regular program.”
Hale explained the need. “We have a lot of parents in this area that just don’t have a lot of money. Parents that can’t afford any extra-curricular activities for their kids. Some kids have absolutely nothing to do after school. We want to meet that need and give the kids something to do that their parents can afford like kids exercise programs, martial arts programs to build self-esteem and confidence, boot camps and sports programs for school age kids. We are even planning a program for pre-school youngsters called ‘Tumbling for Tots’.”
Hale said their goal is to raise enough funds to provide instructors, add equipment for program use and even provide personal equipment if the parents can’t afford it. “We have been absorbing that cost with the programs we have now,” he said.
In the beginning the programs, which they hope to start this school year, will be held at Clare Health and Fitness. “We already have some equipment,” Hale said. He showed off TRX systems, Kettleballs, small weights and his favorite Foobeez sticks which are used to develop teamwork and leadership skills. “We start out simple with the balls and get more advanced as the youngsters get better.”
He described using some of the equipment to build things and exercises where each youngster gets a chance to lead their own team. “Some kids are so scared the first time they are a leader that they cry,” he said. “Later they develop those skills and the confidence that they have never had a chance to use before.”
“We hope to start generating some interest when school starts again and develop some new after school programs,” he added. Their goal is to raise $150,000 to finance Kids On The Move programs and equipment. To eventually build a community center we will probably have to raise much more, he said.
“We haven’t started fundraising yet,” Hale said. He added that any funds raised will be used solely for the kids: instructors, equipment, even transportation when it is needed.
To donate toward making the after-school program a reality, or for more information, call Randy Hale at 989-386-9730 or Tony Demasi at Goldman Legal Advisors 989-424-6556.