Once every four years, little girls around the country are captivated by the United States women’s gymnastics team. Unfortunately, for many of the girls who live in underserved areas, dreams of becoming an Olympic gymnast won’t ever have the chance to get off the ground because of a lack of affordable, quality gymnastics programs.
In Detroit, that’s about to change. The Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation (WHGF), a non-profit organization that offers free and low-cost gymnastics for inner-city youth, is coming to the city this fall. Founder and Detroit native Wendy Hilliard, Hall of Fame rhythmic gymnast and the first African-American to represent the U.S. in international competition, will host an open house to kick off the start of the new gymnastics programs.
The open house will be held at the Joe Dumars Field House (1120 W State Fair Ave) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 17. At the event, local youth can experience a complimentary gymnastics lesson, parents can sign their kids up for new classes, and visitors can hear Wendy Hilliard discuss her experiences and her recent trip to the Rio Olympics.
The WHGF has successfully served more than 17,000 youth in Harlem, developing elite athletes and international gymnastic performers over two decades. Hilliard is excited to be able to expand the programs to her hometown.
“I learned my gymnastics in the Detroit Recreation Department taught by excellent coaches and it changed my life. A sport is a powerful tool. I use gymnastics to teach good health, discipline and critical skills that give youth the confidence they need as they pursue their dreams in life,” said Hilliard. “Gymnastics is one of the most popular Olympic sports but it is expensive and not very accessible in urban areas. The WHGF is changing that.”
Every Saturday, WHGF will provide low-cost gymnastics classes for boys and girls ages five through 17. Scholarships will be available to ensure those that want to take gymnastics can. The classes will be held at the Joe Dumars Field House.
Classes will be taught by local experienced gymnastics coaches in artistic, tumbling, and rhythmic gymnastics. In the next one to two years, WHGF plans to expand further with a designated 30,000-square-foot facility for gymnastics.
To register for the programs or for more information, visit WendyHilliard.org.