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Lansing Spartans Youth Organization

Founded by retired boxer Kolmarge Harris, Lansing Spartans Youth Organization offers low-cost and no-cost programs to children ages 5-15. The program’s goals are to improve kids’ overall fitness, help with weight loss, and instill motivation and confidence that will aid them in all areas of life. 
Michigan Nightlight: In your view, what makes your program innovative, effective or remarkable? 
Lansing Spartans Youth Organization CEO Kolmarge Harris: The program is effective because of all of the good people around me who are helping out: trainers, mentors, counselors. Another reason it’s effective is that I’m like a big brother to a lot of these kids; I connect with them not just physically but mentally.
What was the best lesson learned in the past year?
The best lesson -- and one I’m still learning -- is how to work with kids and communicate with them. They ask me questions I’ve never been asked; they trust me with things they wouldn’t tell their parents. Growing up in the streets of Chicago, I had to
Growing up in the streets of Chicago, I had to learn to adapt and be calm. I try to communicate to the kids that it’s not about fighting and trying to prove “who’s the best.”
learn to adapt and be calm. I try to communicate to the kids that it’s not about fighting and trying to prove “who’s the best.” Everyone needs to work together. I tell them, “If you avoid a fight, you’ll go home happier.”
What was the hardest lesson learned in the past year?
The hardest thing is knowing what to say and what kind of advice to give the kids when they have problems arise, especially with kids wanting to fight other kids in the streets. One nine-year-old came to me and said that there was an eleven-year-old beating up his sister, and asked me if he should beat up the bully. I told him to talk to his mom and the principal, and I hope something changes. I don’t want kids to take the skills they’re learning here and abuse them.
What really differentiates this program?
I went to a lot of gyms cross the state to see how they were training with kids; then I took what I learned, brought those ideas back here, and incorporated them. I’m also planning to hire some people for the nutrition, conditioning, and weight loss components of the program. We had one kid who was five years old and weighed 175 pounds, so that’s an important part of what we’re doing.
What are the keys to success for your program?
The support of the community is the number one thing that will help us. We have some real champions… I just want to make a lot of kids and parents happy. If we can do that, we’ll gain more community support and involvement, and we’ll go real far. I
I don’t want kids to take the skills they’re learning here and abuse them.
talk to parents, and they’re willing to help. The money will come; I’m not worried.
What are people in your program most inspired by? 
The kids are inspired by the fact that they get to work with a professional boxer. That’s impressive for them. The people on my board are most inspired by the hard work that I’m doing. They see that, and that’s why they’re willing to be involved. Work with me, and you’ll see what I’m capable of doing! I plan to expand the range of options to include Frisbee golf, a co-ed baseball league, and soccer. Boxing is great, but I want to do even more.
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  • Lansing Spartans Youth Organization
    The mission of Lansing Spartans Youth Organization is to make available to children and adolescents in the Greater Lansing Area low/no cost individualized fitness programs that motivate, educate and instill a life-changing, life-long bond with ...


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