For most of us, an afternoon pick me up comes in the form of a cup of coffee, tea or maybe even a Red Bull if you really need the wings. For kids in inner city Los Angeles, it comes in the form of a woman named Veronica Everett Boyce and those involved with a program she created called Urban Fitness 911. Her passion and thrill for her work spills out of her like each word is packed with a shot of espresso to the soul that wakes you up a little bit from whichever reality you’re living in.
Her energy is the lifeline to many kids and adults who are a part of Urban Fitness 911, which brings the inner city community in Los Angeles a series of life coaching and fitness and nutritional classes from renowned experts.
“It’s something that I just live to do – to help the inner city youth realize their dreams and realize that they do have a voice, and that they can make a difference in the world.” said Veronica, “I am these kids. I didn’t start reading until I was in the 10th grade so I was not educated as a kid, and for the most part I thought I was stupid.”
Veronica has made leaps and bounds from learning to read in the 10th grade to running her own non-profit while on the road to getting her PhD. She’s made it her personal mission to let kids in low income communities know that they can take on a journey just as accomplished no matter when and where they start.
In a point she makes well, Veronica says we can all start by switching our rhetoric around a bit. Instead of calling it a “low income community” she likes to call it a “community in need of opportunity.”
“When a kid hears ‘low income community’, how do they feel about that? They feel low… I’m low… Where do you go from that?” she continued, “When you make a certain amount of money, that means you’re low and you’re going to a community college. Don’t even think about USC or UCLA.”
Veronica is out to change the direction of a system with a prevalent cycle that keeps kids in the hood from thinking they won’t amount to much because of a lack of proper education and opportunity.
Knowledge is Power
Urban Fitness partners with schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District to bring more educational opportunities to the students attending and show them what’s possible.
“My childhood was mostly about survival and not about education.” Veronica continued, “I eventually made it out through education and I’m trying to let these kids know that even if the school system has failed you, even if your parents have failed you, whomever has failed you, you can still do something to turn it around.”
It’s a message the kids not only hear, but see. Urban Fitness 911 is all about showing the kids the opportunity rather than telling them it’s there. Veronica calls it a roadmap to reach their full potential. They are brought to classes at SoulCycle led by celebrity motivator Angela Davis, they are taught proper nutrition by chefs, and they explore multiple career opportunities through the program.
“Sometimes a person actually has to see something happening in front of them to say you know what I never knew about that. I never knew I could be an engineer. I never knew I could be a chef or run a hotel or things that we do for these kids.” Veronica said.
Good Health is Good Wealth
A sedentary lifestyle can be very prevalent in any community and we are all surrounded by fast foods and cheap junk food. Urban Fitness 911 lets parents join in on the classes with nutritionists so that they can learn how to make a cheap, nutritional meal.
“Our community needs to be educated on how to take care of their bodies because it doesn’t matter whether you’re educated or not educated, whether you have money, or you don’t have money, if you can’t take care of the machine that you have it’s not going to matter anyway.” Veronica continued, “Imagine being in the hood where you have people making less than $16,000 a year and that’s two people working. They don’t have time, and then they have to go home and make what’s fast, and what’s easy. There’s no Whole Foods in the hood I can tell you that much.”
Breaking the Bubble
We are all living in the bubbles of our communities which makes it easy to cast judgement upon those outside of it. That’s why Urban Fitness 911 also has a program called Common Ground which, according to their website, “brings together 100 high school students, 50 students from King Drew Magnet High School, a title one school with over 85 percent socioeconomically disadvantaged students and 50 students from The Buckley School, an affluent private school.” Over the course of 6 months, the students interact on a bi-weekly basis to see the world through each other’s eyes.
“We bring the two worlds together so they can see were actually more the same than different. You might have a bigger bank account than I do but in terms of suffering and challenges and trying to make it and going through life and having to get over some things and be successful we’re kind of almost the same.” said Veronica.
Enthusiasm Flips the Switch
There’s an old saying that knowledge is power, but enthusiasm flips the switch. Veronica, along with everyone involved with making Urban Fitness 911 happen, brings the knowledge and the enthusiasm to a community in dire need of both to break into success.
“It’s just such a brick wall to have to penetrate through. I’m going to keep kicking and I’m going to get it down.”
To learn more about Urban Fitness 911 and how you can help, visit their website www.UrbanFitness911.com