Meet Our Gymshark Changemakers
For International Women's Day this year, we set out to find individuals and organizations who are going above and beyond to break the bias and make a difference for other women in the conditioning world. This is exactly why we created The Changemaker Grant; so we could give back to those giving to the community. We've awarded three winners with $10,000 in donations and mentoring programs to help support them with their initiative.
We were blown away by the number of incredible stories and amazing people we've read about over the last couple of months. The submissions alone have completely affirmed why we wanted to offer this grant in the first place, and narrowing it down to just three winners has been a real challenge for our independent panel of judges.
After weeks of deliberation, we finally have our three winners. And we're honored to present them all to you. Introducing:
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While working with refugee communities in Greece, Brittany saw the incredible effect exercise had on the previously unmotivated members around her. With rising mental health numbers already so evident in asylum seekers, she realized that exercise could cross the language and cultural barriers that can often be so challenging within these displacement camps. Her observations motivated her to use exercise as a way to help improve people's well-being and also encourage people to come together as a community.
Fast forward four years and REFUGYM is now a refugee-led gym offering a wide range of classes that focus on physical and mental health. From hiking trips to football tournaments and self-defense to kayaking, REFUGYM offers women and their families a safe space, a judgment-free zone to learn new skills, meet other like-minded women, and move their bodies in ways they might not have been able to before.
With The Changemaker Grant, REFUGYM will now be able to purchase transport to increase access to activities help outside of their camps, like their water sports programs. They will also be renovating their gym to provide an even more comfortable, welcoming, and safe place for everyone. We're beyond excited to see the next steps for REFUGYM!
THE MINT PRJCT
Cara Forrester, Jess Carr and Betsy Jones started The MINT PRJCT in 2021 after noticing a gap in the fitness industry for pregnant and postpartum women to connect and be educated. As gym owners and mums themselves, they'd noticed there was a lot of confusing or incorrect information and stigmas around exercising through this delicate chapter. This inspired the creation of MINT PRJCT: to break stigmas and provide a safe space for women to ask questions and feel their best through all phases of their pregnancy and postpartum journey.
There are two strands to The MINT PRJCT: one that helps educate trainers who are looking to specialize in pregnancy and postpartum fitness, and the other that provides new mums with information, resources, and programs to help guide and support them. We hope this grant helps to support MINT PRJCT in its mission to educate and break the stigma.
SAFARI HEALTH HUB
When Khadijah Safari was faced with either giving up her passion for Muay Thai and kickboxing or walking away from her connection with Islam, she decided that she would not take up an ultimatum. Instead, she'd go on to open the UK's first women's-only martial arts club in London. Here, women from all backgrounds, cultures, and socioeconomic groups are given a safe space to be equal, together
From domestic violence victims to royalty and members of parliament, the club created a place where women would become each other's community of support and provided them with a place to practice their newfound skills freely, without any previous barriers. One location soon turned into 11. Then, lockdown hit.
Adapting to the new world, within three days, Khadijah had implemented an entire system change that would allow her members to access online classes, lesson plans, and life coaching. She developed and launched programs working alongside local organizations, including mental health support for women, sessions for inactive children and youth from lower socioeconomic groups with a strong focus on the BAME communities, and youth programs for those facing homelessness and financial challenges. In March 2022, she opened Safari Health Hub: a one-stop shop where working on your mental well-being is just as important as your physical.
In the last year, Safari Health Hub has received the COVID-19 Innovation Award from Leap and a British Empire Medal from Her Majesty the Queen for Diversion and Inclusion in Martial Arts. Khadijah's ultimate goal is to increase access to mental health facilities, untie women from different communities together, and increase exercise participation from victims of domestic violence and BAME communities. We are truly inspired by Khadijah's work and keen to see the positive effects this grant makes on Safari Health Club; because they absolutely deserve it.
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So, there you have it. Our Gymshark Changemakers. We can't wait to work alongside all three of these organizations in their quests to help women and their families overcome their barriers. We know there's still work to be done by all of us, but together we can continue to make change, break the bias and use our glass ceilings as dance floors.
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