art and culture

Education

Lift for Life

An interview with Reginald Moore

Across all zip codes in Saint Louis City, students in middle and high school head to the Lift For Life gym after school for a program of fitness, mentorship, and hot meals during the hours that other kids might be out on the streets causing trouble. The gym is small but mighty– with a basketball court, a weight area, an academic tutoring area, and a kitchen that turns out hot meals for all the students daily.

Despite Covid, there are more than 40 regular students who have kept in contact and been active with the gym. When Covid first closed all gyms completely for three months, the staff at Lift For Life knew they needed to stay active in the community and keep the young folks engaged and motivated. At first, “we were providing home support for some of our families but outside of that we weren’t running any program during that time,“ Reggie Moore, Director of Programming says. They partnered with a local church to get supplies to families who needed them, and worked to provide groceries for the students, 90% of whom live below the poverty line.

Many kids find out about Lift for Life by word of mouth, so the gym is full of relatives and siblings. Along with academic help, they are taught about healthy living and healthy lifestyles, and the weightlifting team is back in training, producing National Youth Weightlifting Champions.

There are no academic requirements for students to participate in the gym, but there are incentives for getting good grades. And once students enter high school, Moore pairs each student with “a mentor for four years of high school and the first year of college, or wherever they do the first year out of school.” Some of these mentors are actually graduates of the program themselves.

Now, the gym is back open three days a week by appointment, though only 15 people are allowed in the gym at one time. They are working on a slow reopening and continuing to be involved in community outreach as we go into 2021. Want to make a difference and help out? Lift for Life needs more fitness volunteers to teach the students skills and instill a passion for working out. Working as a fitness volunteer is how Moore got started with the gym, some 10 years ago, and never looked back. “These kids go through a lot, [they] live in a lot of high crime areas and for them to be as positive as they are, being as resilient as they are, and to keep moving, is just something that helps me..[ it] drives me and keeps me going.”

Lift For Life is gearing up for Microfest 2021, a beer festival held in the Muny parking lot, where all proceeds go to the gym. They need volunteers and fundraiser to help out with this event — head to their website for more information on how to sign up as a volunteer, and help lift these kids up.

Life for life
Lift for Life
life for lift
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