Crowdfunding Helps After-School Nonprofit Fitness Program Spread Health to Students

The first time she walked into a gym – not far removed from a thyroid cancer diagnosis and giving birth to her second child — Jocelyn Coughlin was overweight, embarrassed and intimidated. She had taken her health for granted for far too long.

Now, Coughlin, a 28-year-old high school science teacher, is spreading her good health to make sure no one feels the way she once did. Her message is relayed through a nonprofit she established to provide after-school health education and fitness experiences to youth in Worcester, Mass.

After starting out with just a few kids five years ago, FITCLUB Foundation Inc. has grown to include more than 100 students across two high schools and two elementary schools, where one-hour workouts are devoted to huffing and puffing between kids who traditionally have not been exposed to fitness.

The 501(c)(3) organization has grown so much that Coughlin has turned to crowdfunding to continue to expand the program, purchase equipment and pay for additional qualified fitness trainers. Coughlin, the chairperson of the science department at Worcester Technical High School, said her campaign, which she posted on the free crowdfunding site YouHelp.com, has garnered more support than what small fundraisers and contributions had in the past.

YouHelp is also providing Fitclub with access to like-minded groups including fitness instructors and local studios and gyms interested in partnering to lead different exercise routines each week or sponsor health-related events. Coughlin said Fitclub has teamed with the Worcester Fitness Center, which will host a Spin-A-Thon, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Sunday, March 25, 2018.

Coughlin said she is promoting the event, which will include three instructors and 23 teams of supporters, on YouHelp and via social media. Already, in addition to Worcester Fitness, she has attracted GH2, Crossfit Worcester, Fit Friendzie, Kelley's Bootcamp, NV Fitness, and the Fitness Asylum to help sponsor the event.

Money raised at the Spin-A-Thon will be put toward expanding the Fitclub program to even more locations, where students who do not participate in team sports will be able to find an after-school outlet to help keep them in shape. Fitclub aims to serve as an after-school home or provider for these students as well as those who are disabled or come from impoverished families.

Physical education is mandatory for high school students in Worcester, but Coughlin said the courses are not on par with the workouts offered at FITCLUB. About 40 percent of the current Massachusetts high school student population, does not take part in a team sport, either.

Coughlin said she wasn’t a member of a team sport in high school. And she does not want to see the current generation of kids — like she did — develop unhealthy habits later in life. Coughlin knows what she is talking about. She had ballooned to some 200 pounds.

Now that her cancer is in remission and she has shed some 75 pounds, thanks to cardio workouts and weight training, Coughlin has embraced the idea of making her city a place where students can participate in diverse health and fitness activities – and have fun.

YouHelp.com, is a free fundraising website that offers the best in crowdfunding capabilities to forward-thinking schools, students, nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals with an eye toward promoting physical fitness and healthy lifestlyes and connecting their campaigns to the public. 

The YouHelp process is simple: create a profile, a fundraising goal, add high resolution images and a compelling message that prospects will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, and the campaign is promoted properly, contributors will pledge their support.

About the Author: Staff Writer for YouHelp

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