A chance conversation while working in my urban garden with two neighborhood boys who happened by one Saturday started it all. We talked about vegetables, growing your own food and making healthy choices. A year later, I was working on an assignment for my plant-based nutrition courses at eCornell. My instructor, Lewis Freedman requested we write about a plant-based business. I wrote about starting a program for urban youth to teach them about community gardens, healthy food and cooking with a side of tutoring and physical fitness. The name of the program I wrote about was Plant-Based Adventures. Working with kids to introduce them to plant-based nutrition was my dream. Not long after, I started blogging as Plant-Based Adventures and eventually became part of the Engine 2 team.
Since then, my husband Bill and I have been volunteering with amateur boxing. He is a USA Boxing coach and a mentor to young adults in the boxing program. I help many of them make healthy choices and work toward living a plant-based lifestyle. I have had the opportunity to work with many athletes in the kitchen and at the market learn more about plant-based cooking. When performance can be enhanced through better eating, they are eager to learn more. Several of the athletes I work with have made the transition completely, going 100% plant-strong. I am so proud of these individuals! Their hard work and dedication is astounding.
A conversation during a road trip when the PowerBall lottery had exceeded $300 million began. We bantered around ideas for opening a different kind of boxing gym if we won the lottery. We talked of buying an old warehouse building to house our program. Purchasing fitness equipment, a full featured boxing gym, a commercial kitchen so we could feed the kids and teach classes on cooking and plant-based living, space outside for a community garden, and a computer lab/study area where tutors could work with the kids. We included a mentoring program for kids who needed someone to help guide them through the tough years that adolescence can bring. We would implement a scholarship program to help get them into higher education and a GED program for those who needed to finish school. What can I say? It was a lottery dream We had this conversation often, adding ideas to build a comprehensive program.
Enter St Louis. We relocated to the City of St Louis last summer. St Louis is a great place! We love it here. It is the perfect place for us. The city has a rich history in boxing, lots of community gardens, amazing people and an abundance of urban at-risk youth who can benefit from a structured program like our lottery dream. Like any large metropolitan area, St Louis has it’s fair share of crime, guns, gangs and street violence. Providing an opportunity to box is often an enticing incentive to those looking to avoid becoming an all too familiar statistic. We also encountered several like-minded individuals in St Louis and discovered that alone, we could only do so much; but together, we could form the foundation to build our collective dream.
I am proud to announce that what was once a dream, is becoming a reality. Plant-Based Adventures and our dream gym have merged. December 16th 2013, St Louis All City Boxing Inc. was born. A non-profit corporation aiming to serve the at-risk youth in the City of St Louis. As the founders of St Louis All City Boxing, we are excited for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people who participate in our program. Boxing is the hook that gets the kids into the program. Providing them with the support, understanding and nourishment that our program offers keeps them coming back. Helping them build a life outside the gym through tutoring, community involvement and education will make them champions outside the ring as well. Our goal is to make a difference.