It’s pretty hard to live in Chicago and not start to have a dire image of the educational system as a whole, and as much as I hate to say it, a dire picture of the direction of our young people. All day everyday in newspapers and on the news are stories of violence, failing schools, teacher strikes, school closings…the list could go on.
It’s against this back drop that I had an incredibly inspiring experience visiting Bulls College Prep a couple of weeks ago. Bulls College Prep is a charter school and is part of The Noble Network of Charter Schools. This is an organization that’s made huge strides in getting kids on the college track educationally, and is approaching nearly 100% acceptance rate to 4 year colleges and universities for it’s students. As we all know, nutrition and fitness also play a huge role in our personal development and go a long way towards a healthy community. Bulls College Prep goes beyond only academic preparation, and that is how I ended up visiting the school.
Bulls College Prep has implemented a CrossFit program into their curriculum. Long story short, I heard that CrossFit Kids Headquarters was sending a representative to the school and I asked if I could tag along. I’m so glad I did. These kids absolutely blew me away, as did their teachers and administration who have put this program together. First of all, I literally did not see one child with a bad attitude or giving less than there all. We’re talking about 9-12th graders here people, the population most known for their attitudes. Not a single eye roll or lazy squat. These are the same black and brown “inner city” kids that are often expected to fail. I didn’t see any failures in that group. These kids were incredibly disciplined, enthusiastic, hard working and, in true CrossFit fashion, nconditionally supportive of one another. I’ll admit it, these kids made me tear up, I was so proud for them!
It seems that the Bulls College Prep staff is doing something unique here. Again, the enthusiasm and commitment was abundantly clear. The athletic director at the school trains at a local Chicago Area CrossFit, and multiple Bulls College Prep staff members are CF Kids Certified. CF Kids HQ is working with The Noble Network to continue to certify staff and spread the program throughout the network. Again, true to CrossFit form, Bulls College Prep tracks and measures student progress in fitness, and is gathering data that could lead to more support for such programs. Part of the reason I find this school’s work so exciting is the implications for similar programs in other locations in the future.
As it stands, Bulls College Prep is in need of financial and equipment resources. The classes I observed completed a great, but modified “Fran” (no pull up rig, limited barbells and plates), as well as some gymnastics work. They don’t have kettlebells, wallballs, mats, etc.
What they do have is a highly committed staff who have put together a fundraiser event:
“Barbells for Bulls”
When: Friday, May 24th 6:00-9:00pm
Where: Division Ale House, 1942 W. Division, Chicago, IL