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Girls’ gym opened at Herron-Riverside High School for student athletes



Indianapolis, Indiana – Junior track and cross-country runner Kendall Hawthorn attends Herron-Riverside High School. She is thrilled that the new exercise center was especially created for her and her teammates. It was very different from the exercise space they used to utilize before practice.

“We had a weight room. There weren’t that many weights and there wasn’t a lot of equipment. It was like a fourth of this room,” Hawthorn said about the new space. “I feel really happy and proud because we’re a really small school that like started off more recently than a lot of other schools in Indy and I feel like this kind of shows that we’re growing.”

The new gym at the school was built in collaboration with the national nonprofit Impact Fitness Foundation. The new gym was built with women’s health equity in mind, as girls make up more than 60% of the student-athlete population. The student-athletes and coaches participated in a training session with athletic trainers from Impact Fitness and the Indiana Fever after the space was unveiled to help acclimate them to their new facility.

New flooring, weightlifting, and resistance training gear, as well as a fresh coat of paint that represents the school’s colors, mascot, and motto, are all part of the entirely restored area.

Aunna Smith is a freshman basketball player for Herron-Riverside.

Before practice, she had already settled on her preferred exercise machine—one that employs resistance bands.

“It kind of makes doing push-ups a little bit easier than like when you’re doing it on the ground, Smith said. “I can actually come in here and work out and stuff without having to move stuff around.”

There are ten sports teams at the school, which has roughly 950 pupils in grades 9 through 12.

The weight rooms at Herron-Riverside High are an area the school wants to improve for many years to come, according to Emanuel Harper, Head of School.

One of Harper’s goals for the school is to provide all students with access to modern training facilities, especially the girls who make up 60% of her sporting teams. The goal is for this area to transform our daughters, therefore that’s what we hope and dream it will be.

According to him, Herron-Riverside works to foster a lifetime of learning, which includes not just their demanding academic program but also the health and wellbeing of their students and families. Thanks to Elevance Health and the Impact Exercise Foundation, a proper fitness center has been added, and this will lay a solid foundation for developing healthy habits that will remain long after high school.

“It’s not news that regular physical activity helps kids improve their fitness levels, and the pandemic really highlighted that it is a necessary part of reducing anxiety and depression” Chris Welsh, Founder and President of the Impact Fitness Foundation, said. “Yet when it comes to the modernization of public school buildings, fitness and movement spaces are rarely part of the conversation. We are thrilled to partner with a company like Elevance Health that believes in whole health and is invested in supporting schools that don’t have the resources they need.”

“As an organization with deep roots in our communities, we are committed to advancing health equity – when everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible – both nationally and locally,” Dr. Darrell Gray, II, Chief Health Equity Officer at Elevance Health, said. “Through our partnership with Impact Fitness Foundation and Herron-Riverside High School, students will have increased access to resources and enhanced programming needed to optimize physical health.”


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