STRENGTH TRAINING FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
Sports Based Youth Development Strengthening Body, Mind, and Community
WHAT IS STL STrONG?
STL STrONG is an after-school weightlifting program for youth in the St. Louis community
offered by Justin Thacker’s The Lab Gym in partnership with Lift for Life Gym. Research shows that
sports-based youth development programs positively impact adolescents’ physical health, mental
performance, and engagement in their communities, schools, and homes. The mission of STL
STrONG is to improve the self-esteem, physical fitness, and academic performance for youth through
a curriculum based weight training program that teaches the fundamentals of strength training and
conditioning, provides consistent mentoring, and teaches youth skills for making healthy choices.
WHY YOUTH WEIGHTLIFTING?
BODY: More than 1/3 of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.
• The Issue: Today our youth face several health challenges. According to the Center for Disease
Control and Prevention (2008) “more than 1/3 of children and adolescents are overweight or obese” and
physical activity, which is proven to fight obesity, declines with age beginning in adolescence. Obesity
increases a youth’s risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure as well as diabetes, joint
problems, sleep apnea, and several forms of cancer.
The Solution: The CDC and vast other research studies support that physical activity can help to not
only fight, but also prevent these health problems. Weightlifting has huge physical benefits and one study
of elite junior Olympic weightlifters found that their bone mineral density was significantly greater than
the age matched group and also greater than that of 20-39 year old men! In another study of an 8 week
weightlifting program, participants lowered their resting heart rate by 8% and fat dropped by 6%. It has
also been found that weight training has one of the lowest injury rates compared to other sports with as
low as .0035 injuries per 100 hours compared to soccer with 6.2 injuries in the same time.
MIND: Many youth face challenges with depression and low-self esteem.
The Issue: We all know that adolescence comes with many challenges and those can, at times, take a
toll on a youth’s confidence and feelings of self-worth. There is significant evidence to support that depression,
low self-esteem, obesity, and physical activity are correlated to one another.
The Solution: Physical activity offers powerful positive benefits to the mind. Evidence suggests that
there is a positive correlation between the increase of physical activity in youth and their increase in
feelings of confidence, competence, and self-efficacy. Research on sports-based youth development
also suggests that the skills learned during the physical activity further enhance their problem solving
skills in other areas of life in addition to goal setting and maintaining, and being able to receive and apply
COMMUNITY: Youth violence is pervasive in St. Louis.
• The Issue: The St. Louis community faces many challenges with youth violence. After 3pm the
victimization of youth increases and results in a cost of $158 billion each year for our country, not to
mention the countless lives that are negatively impacted by crime.
The Solution: We know that after-school programming rooted in positive youth development can
help to reduce youth violence as well as help youth score higher academically and become less likely
to engage in risky behaviors than youth who do not engage in after-school programs. Programs with
mentorship components that engage youth for at least 3 hours a week have been proven to reduce the
use of drugs and alcohol, as well as increase youth attendance in school.
HOW YOU CAN HELP!
The Lab Gym, Lift for Life, and the youth that we serve through STL STrONG need your
support! It is important that these services be accessible to youth regardless of their socioeconomic
status and ability to pay for the program. Our goal is to serve 15 youth and have them prepared to
attend the Youth Nationals Competition. For a youth to participate in the program for a year the cost
is $1,867. This covers their training, shoes, equipment, as well as entrance fees to the competition
and travel expenses. To help support a youth’s participating in STL STrONG you can make a check
out to the Bob Eming Foundation, which is a 501(c)3, who is managing all donations for STL
STrONG. Thank you for your support and dedication to youth’s health!