Foster Fit Provides First Scholarship, Connecting Foster Teen and North Carolina Affiliate
After months of fundraising, Foster Fit, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering youth in foster care through CrossFit scholarships, awarded their first membership to a teen in North Carolina, matching her with a local affiliate, Morrisville Community CrossFit.
Remind me: Foster Fit’s mission is to help “every foster child to have strong physical health, avoid the rising obesity statistics for kids and teens, and have consistent and normalizing activities.”
- Justin Romaire, founder of the organization, believes that CrossFit gyms, their communities, and coaches can help foster children reach these goals.
- “CrossFit provides a consistent and nurturing community, which has proven to improve the mental and physical health of adolescent teens and adults. Foster Fit will provide kids and teens in foster care access to the same love and support that we receive from our CrossFit friends and community,” writes the organization on their website.
How it works: Multiple pieces have to come together for a partnership to form between foster youth and CrossFit gym; Romaire refers to Foster Fit as the “mediator.”
First, interested youth or teens in foster care have to apply for a scholarship on the organization’s website. Then, Romaire and his team search for an affiliate near the applicant, one that is accessible that they think would be a good fit for the program.
The final step is to make sure all requirements are in place:
- To participate in the Foster Fit scholarship program, the foster youth or teen has to be in school. Accepted ages are 6 to 18, though Romaire says older youth that are in extended care can be eligible.
- CrossFit class requirements – varied based on what the gym offers – have to be met. Romaire simply says the scholarship recipients “need to be attending classes regularly.”
For the guardian, it’s simple – all Foster Fit needs is verification that they’re the parent and a signed contract.
- The scholarships renew monthly, and before renewal, Romaire and his team make sure all the youth’s requirements are being met.
Foster Fit will pay whatever the participating gym’s normal rate is — the organization has been fundraising for this specific purpose — but the gym or coaches need to have some sort of youth development degree or fitness certification.
- Romaire says this doesn’t need to be The CrossFit Kids Certificate, though that’s “received very highly.” Any teacher would meet the requirement.
- Gym personnel are also required to go through a yearly background check.
The first partnership: After months of prep, Foster Fit was finally able to marry all of these pieces together for their first partnership between a 16-year-old teen and Morrisville Community CrossFit.
- Romaire says the teen is “loving it.” Her guardian also signed up for classes and has told the organization “it’s eye-opening… [we’re] winded and out of shape” and that she knows her daughter is going to be showing her up any day now.
- “She’s been keeping up with everything,” Romaire says about their first foster youth, “And she’s really really enjoying it. The middle of the month will be when her scholarship is renewed, so hopefully, we’ll be able to continue offering her the scholarship. She’s been enjoying everything the community at Morrisville has to offer.”
- “The owner at Morrisville was extremely excited as we got everything together and got the background checks; this willingness just shows their commitment to being able to do this,” Romaire says.
Moving forward: Romaire says he’s got plenty of interested affiliates; getting in touch with the youth has proved to be more difficult. But, in the past month, he’s received around 15 applications, which the organization is starting to roll through. (It’s a slow process to get all of the elements aligned for a Foster Fit scholarship.)
- “People really believe in CrossFit; that’s why they have an affiliate,” Romarie says. “People who don’t know about CrossFit, it’s hard to bring brand awareness around… [guardians and teens] see it as a workout thing until they actually get into the gym,” Romaire says.
- “That’s been a struggle,” he continues. “To make sure we’re getting the correct understanding to the parents about what it is that we’re doing and why it’s beneficial, whereas someone who’s already in a gym knows this is amazing for the kids, and we need to get them involved in this program.”
- But, he adds: “I’m working with 7 other foster families right now, so we’ve really catapulted after the first one. I think people were really like, ‘Ok, we’re doing this.’”