Anymore, it’s nearly impossible to watch the news, open a newspaper (yes some of us still do that) or just catch up on current events without realizing in some way, shape or form, the youth of our nation, more accurately, right in our backyard are in severe trouble and facing challenges and circumstances that are truly heartbreaking.
Beyond the challenges and circumstances are the temptations that are so readily available at any given moment. Unlike the older generation, the current youth are exposed to unprecedented speed and access of data and communication. Right in their pocket is a gateway to bullying, drug solicitation or debauchery.
Like any other write-up, we could dive into the statistics about poverty, hunger, drug addiction, broken families and hopelessness; we have the research and data, and its immensely important, but for now we’d like to focus on a solution and “call to action” if you will.
ATP currently has two programs that focus on at risk youth in the area. Our After School Program and the ATP and Me Mentorship program. All the kids we work with are classified as being an “extreme-risk-youth”. These kids are receiving a free/reduced breakfast, lunch and dinner from the school in addition to getting homework and academic assistance. Whatever their situation or circumstance, these kids need and more than deserve, our help.
It’s my thought that the vast majority of the issues we face in America can be solved by rolling up our sleeves and actually working towards solutions rather than yelling loudest or typing fastest. We need to bite louder than we bark!
So how can you be part of the solution?
Commit - If this issue speaks to you, make the decision that it’s time to get off the sideline and bring your A-game.
Take an inventory - What in your life do you have abundance of or have to offer? We all have something. Maybe you’re blessed with finances but don’t have a lot of time. Support a program. OR the reverse and you find yourself with time to spare and can devote it to being a mentor. Maybe you have a skillset like coaching, teaching, or a trade that you can share. The sky’s the limit, but take the time to inventory yourself and apply it.
Take Action - This isn’t a pitch for ATP’s programs. The fact of the matter is we’d love to have you, your support and if you are ready to take action; we can certainly help. But, the point of this message is the call to action. Go to your school districts, local library or sports associations-whatever you can, just get started!
The children of America and more specifically Western Pa/Eastern OH, need your help and what you have to offer. Every child deserves a chance and positive influence in their lives. A small investment from your life could have eternal impact on theirs.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No- it’s Superman! We’ve all heard that before. Most everyone is familiar with the iconic “S”, or the gentleman dressed as a bat who patrols the night. The intrigue of superheroes has fascinated and captivated society for decades. Starting as comic books, then cartoon shows and now major box office hits; with the most recent marvel movie becoming the highest grossing film of all time!
There’s something about heroes that draws us in- that provokes our minds and peaks our interests. I personally am a huge fan of the popular movies and I’d speculate that part of the fascination is the respect for sacrifice and using what we have to serve a purpose greater than ourselves.
What some folks miss is that the heroes aren’t just in the movies. They don’t need super powers and come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Most don’t even like the term. That humility even further demonstrates the type of people they are. They are the people who rise up and serve their fellow people when they are needed most.
ATP recently had the absolute pleasure of being in a room full of such people. Our founder Jon Kolb was fortunate to be a participant in a panel discussion at the Heinz History Center, while they hosted Vietnam War veteran Rocky Bleier; to present their new Vietnam War exhibit as well as Rocky Bleier’s awesome book “Fighting Back”- you can visit Rocky’s website here. The panel included Marine and Steeler great, John Banaszak, Dr. Ben Stahl of the Veterans Leadership Program, and Dick Hughes, who although a conscientious objector, was actually one of the last Americans to leave Vietnam after the war and continues to serve the local children to this day. The night revolved around each person’s different experiences during that time and included a major theme of service.
One of the many impactful moments of the evening was when all veterans in the crowd were asked to stand and be recognized. The men and women present who served our country stood to a round of applause. However, no applause is loud enough or long enough to fully express the appreciation they deserve.
The fact of the matter is, as mentioned in the panel discussion, 1% of our nation fights to defend the freedom that the other 99% enjoy. These 1% are the ones who answer the call to serve a purpose higher than themselves when they were needed most. Each and every veteran displays a level of sacrifice and heroism that far too often goes unnoticed.
The reality remains that the experiences and circumstances our veterans face in such service, can leave them on the wrong side of hope when it is all said and done.
Each of us has the ability to serve. Also, service can look different to each of us. ATP’s Veterans Program was developed out of a need and call. While thousands of wonderful organizations exist to assist American veterans, not all of them exist to advance a veteran’s ability to experience a healthy, functional and physical life again. Our mission is to use our gifts to empower veterans and provide hope through movement.
Our veterans are those who step up when they are needed most. They are those who serve a purpose greater than themselves and lay it all on the line for each and every one of us. They fought so we can live free. It’s time for us all to step up, fight for them and serve those who served.
*ATP’s Veterans Program is dedicated to improving a veterans life through purposeful physical training, to provide freedom through movement and adventure and perform the tasks of daily living without the need of assistance. Your help can go a long way towards this mission. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to support ATP’s Veterans Program or donate here.
Can you do me a favor? If you would, please take a moment, stop and think about every little movement you’ve made in the last three minutes or so that resulted with you here on the ATP blog reading these words. Let’s take that a step further and think about your morning routine, or your favorite weekend activity. Lastly just take a moment to praise God for it. It amazes me how unbelievably cool and complex the human body is and how much has to happen just for my eyes to blink.
I say all this to point out that movement makes the world go around. Quite literally- but its also foundational to our way of life as human beings! For thousands of years folks have studied movement in countless different capacities. Beyond the physical act, movement also means something completely different to each and every one of us.
To one person it could mean relaxation by hopping in the car and going for a drive. For another it can mean Wii Bowling, because the house balls at the local ally seem a little dirty. It can be a hobby, a way of life or can even be taken for granted.
ATP’s meaning for movement is engrained in each and everything we do. Its our culture, which stems from being pivotal to our foundation. So what does movement mean for ATP? Glad you asked. While the below is not a comprehensive list, we’d like to share 4 major components with you.
Development - From the moment a person is born, the milestones of their early months and years normally revolve around movement. Think about it- first is holding their head up, then rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing, walking, then it’s off to the races! From the very beginning to the very end of our lives, it plays a huge role in our development as people; and we strive to help every step of the way.
Freedom - Each and every one of us has something holding us back from doing some of the things we wish we could. Maybe it’s obesity, age, injury, fear, doubt or laziness- whatever it is, the right movement gives us the ability to break those chains, crush our goals and live free from what held us back before.
Inspiration - We at ATP are blessed to work with people who have been told movement is not an option for them. Bound to limited or no mobility, just the ability of turning their head is life-changing. They embody mental fortitude, grit and perseverance. To conquer such challenges and exude such hope is an absolute inspiration.
Purpose - It’s in our name and an ultimate goal. We all have purpose on this earth through God our creator and praise Him for it. We also live in a fallen world that can put us on the wrong side of hope. Through movement, we can continue to develop, break free of what holds us back, be inspired and inspire and ultimately, regain hope and purpose in our lives.
Of course, movement is not the only way to obtain the above. But with the ability to make such an impact in the lives of others, its our mission to share it with the world! Move with purpose today.
The GAP…No, not the ever-popular clothing store with quality items at reasonable prices - We’re talking the Greater Allegheny Passage bike trip today folks. Much like the Oregon Trail of old, the GAP is an outlet for those seeking to pioneer a new, in search for adventure.
Okay, that may be a bit dramatic. The reality is the Greater Allegheny Passage is quite a popular trail for bikers, hikers, trail runners etc. to pioneer from Pittsburgh, all the way down to Cumberland, Maryland. They can then catch a connecting trail to our Nation’s Capital. The GAP Totals 150 miles one way and is overflowing with beautiful scenery, quaint trail towns and checked bucket lists.
So why are we talking about the GAP? Well as you may have seen within our various social media posts- ATP’s very own Caleb Kolb and Sarah Watkins recently set out on an exciting adventure and conquered the trek.
The somewhat impromptu journey is a fine example of living out what you firmly believe. Let me explain- about one month prior to departure, Caleb and Sarah were at REI purchasing gear for some of our programs (check out our programs page here). If you’re not familiar with REI its an awesome store for all things camping, hiking, outdoors etc. They stumbled upon a brochure for the GAP and were instantly intrigued. Without skipping a beat, they knew they had to crush it, before even discussing it. Aside from the challenge of finding four free days, they also realized they’d have to camp the whole thing, battle the elements, and make sure their bikes could handle it. Most would have tabled the adventure for next year, but where’s the fun in that?
I urge you to listen to our founder, Jon Kolb discuss where the name- Adventures in Training with a Purpose comes from. Jon describes adventure as setting out on a challenge, without knowing the outcome. In discussing adventure, he talks about standing at the base of a mountain, being able to look at it and, by the grace of God, conquering it.
That’s the mentality of our founder, leadership and those we work with. Every day is an adventure to conquer and we need to push ourselves to new heights- so no matter what future mountain, trail, or giant you may face, no matter how big or small, you can look at it and smile with the anticipation of your next conquest.
Be adventurous- and stay tuned for Caleb and Sarah’s rundown of their amazing trip!