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‘Hands Up for LGC’ brings sense of community back to local gymnastics club

Image via Loyalist Gymnastics Club

Loyalist Gymnastics Club (LGC) is working hard to rebuild the sense of community lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An in-house fundraising campaign, ‘Hands Up for LGC,’ is raising funds for the club, and reconnecting its members.

“With the pandemic going on a year now, the Sponsorship Coordinator from the board and one of the coaches from the staff came up with this idea,” shared Barbara Raimondi, LGC Board Member and Media Coordinator. “Everyone was on board with the project because it was a great way to remind everyone of, and to reignite, a sense of belonging and shared interests. Having the children’s prints on the wall allows them to express a sense of permanence.”

The ‘Hands Up for LGC’ fundraiser has club members purchasing a brick on the wall of the gym. The athletes register for a day and time, and choose to print one or both hands in black and/or red paint on their purchased brick. After printing, they write their names and the year they joined the club. Pictures are posted to the LGC social media, thanking them for their participation. Before leaving, the kids get a paper certificate that mimics the image on the wall. It has their own handprints, name and year. 

LGC gymnasts (L-R) Gala Baranchuk, Sam Waller, Daisy Crawford, Xavier Olasz, and Emily Cassista posing with the Hands Up for LGC wall. Photo by Barbara Raimondi.

For many families, especially those with children in the competitive gymnastics program, the gym is their second home.

“LGC is a great community – we’re like a family,” Raimondi shared with Kingstonist. “Especially the competitive gymnasts who spend many hours training. They start with four hours a week at the gym, and more advanced levels will spend 16 hours here. They have a tight bond with their coaches, and they make long lasting friendships with their peers. On the sidelines, parents make new friends, as well — Carpooling to competitions, going out to dinner as a group, and sharing in the excitement of watching children try their best under the pressure of tournaments.”

Parents have been understanding of the new COVID-19 policies in place, Raimondi said. Screening, mask wearing, and limiting the number of people in the viewing area has allowed the club to continue to operate during the pandemic. According to LGC, parents who love watching their children practice and learn new skills have been very accepting and understanding about the restrictions, and waiting until it is safe to gather again in the viewing area.

Over the past two weeks, the fundraiser has seen 57 athletes take part. In some cases, participants share a brick, most often when there are siblings involved. So far the club has raised $1,450 from their community.

Raimondi said that enrollment this season has increased compared to previous years, but the club has limited class sizes by 35 per cent to allow for proper distancing during each class. LGC has also added a Health & Safety coach during recreational classes to assist with sanitizing equipment, entrance/exit protocols, and to supervise the social distancing between the athletes. Smaller class sizes, additional coaches, and the cost of cleaning materials have reduced their profit margins.

They also launched a new Parkour program in the fall, and the club said they will use some of the funds raised to purchase more specialized equipment for participants.

Fundraising during the pandemic is not new to the gymnastics club. Last spring, during the first shut down, they created a GoFundMe page to help support them while waiting to hear what government funding would be available. Raimondi said they raised over $4,000 through the generosity of the gymnastics families and their friends. The GoFundMe is still active, and anyone who would like to support the not-for-profit club is welcome to make a donation.

For more information on the Loyalist Gymnastics Club, take a look at their website, and visit their Facebook and Twitter pages.

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