(Left): One of the junior trainers teaching two kids the proper push-up technique at an outreach event
(Right): The junior trainers listening to a guest speaker lecture on nutrition

It’s hard to believe that I’m about to start week four in Seattle. The time has flown by, but when I look back on everything that I’ve done so far, I realize that I’ve seen and experienced a lot. I’ve been to the Ballard Locks, the EMP Museum, eaten a Piroshky at Pike’s Place, run many times at Green Lake and the Burke-Gilman trail, gone shopping downtown, hiked Mt. Si, eaten lots of free froyo on the Ave. and so much more. I can’t wait to explore a lot more in the coming weeks, but that’s enough of my touristy ramblings for now.

While in Seattle I have been working on planning and running the summer program for junior trainers at the Austin Foundation, a non-profit that works to improve fitness and nutrition advocacy within the community and inspire youth to live healthy and active lives. So far, I have loved working at the Austin Foundation. It’s definitely a non-profit that has gone through a hard time following the recent unexpected death of its founder, Willie Austin, but the collective efforts of many of those whose lives had been shaped by Willie have kept the Austin Foundation on its feet and have enabled the summer program to continue. As Nick and I have been working to understand how the foundation and the summer run, trying to schedule speakers and outreach programs, and figure out how to best help the youth become effective advocates of fitness and nutrition in the community, the rest of the staff have been extremely helpful in giving us support.

For me, the coolest part of my experience thus far at the Austin Foundation has been getting to know the junior trainers, who are all youth between the ages of 14-19 who have been employed through various summer employment programs to work as junior trainers at the gym. I think as the weeks have gone by, Nick and I have felt as though the program has been running much more smoothly, as we have gotten to know the junior trainers better and they have gotten more comfortable with us. Even though trying to keep all of them engaged in the activities all of the time can be a challenge, I really feel as though I’ve learned a lot about each of them and I can see that as they are becoming more comfortable around Nick and I, they are becoming more engaged in the things that we are trying to teach them and work on them with. While at the beginning of the summer the summer program may have simply been a paycheck to many of the kids, as the weeks have past, increasingly more of them are voluntarily coming in early, staying late, and coming in on their days off. Even though I realize that not every kid is going to cooperate, I can see that on the whole, the junior trainers are a great group of kids who are giving a great effort. To me, the best part of working at the Austin Foundation has been seeing the junior trainers really enjoying what they are doing while they are at work and seeing how this is reflected when they are out in the community doing outreach and teaching the fitness and nutrition skills that they learn in the gym to other kids in the community. It’s been awesome getting to hear what they’re interested in, whether it be basketball (which is probably the most common thing), football, photography, music, or whatever else they enjoy doing.

Overall, I really enjoy working with the Austin Foundation, because even though trying to manage the staff, schedules, speakers, and all of the trainers has been a really big challenge for Nick and I, I think that it has also been a rewarding experience. I don’t think that there are many other places where I would be able to work with such interesting people, while also getting management experience and challenging myself if ways that I never expected. Hopefully in the upcoming weeks things will continue to run smoothly and I’ll have more good things to report in my next blog entry.

Anna Markowitz
Duke ‘15
 


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