Once every four years, little girls around the country are captivated by the United States women’s gymnastics team. Unfortunately, for many of the girls who live in underserved areas, dreams of becoming an Olympic gymnast won’t ever have the chance to get off the ground because of a lack of affordable, quality gymnastics programs.
That’s about to change. Hall of Fame gymnast Wendy Hilliard was the first African-American to represent the U.S. in international competition. Now, she’s helping make dreams a reality. She is the founder of The Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation which provides low-cost gymnastics to the community.
Hilliard’s foundation has now served more than 10,000 young people through free weekly gymnastics classes, summer camps, literacy and nutrition workshops, competitive rhythmic gymnastics scholarships, and annual girls’ and women’s sports clinics. Indeed, being a mentor and ambassador comes naturally to the former international gold medalist, who was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2008. Since retiring from competition, she’s helmed various organizations in the gymnastics world, and from 1995 until 1997 led the Women’s Sports Foundation as its first African-American president. She also recently helped to design a 15,000-square-foot gymnastics center for Aviator Sports and Recreation, a new multimillion-dollar, multi-sports complex in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn.
“I learned my gymnastics in the Detroit Recreation Department taught by excellent coaches and it changed my life. A sport is a powerful tool. I use gymnastics to teach good health, discipline and critical skills that give youth the confidence they need as they pursue their dreams in life,” said Hilliard. “Gymnastics is one of the most popular Olympic sports but it is expensive and not very accessible in urban areas. The WHGF is changing that.”
Classes are taught by local, experienced gymnastics coaches in artistic, tumbling and rhythmic gymnastics.
To register for the programs or for more information, visit WendyHilliard.org.