‘Mentorship matters:’ CMS graduate, Charlotte native uses fitness to mentor students in Mecklenburg Co.
Youth Style Fitness is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that uses physical fitness foundations to mentor students
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - One Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools graduate is using his passion for fitness to pour back into the community that raised him.
Kim Olige graduated from Mallard Creek High School in 2013. He says while he enjoyed his time in CMS, he felt more mentorship programs were needed to support students.
“It could’ve benefitted me or other peers I know just to have somebody like myself or somebody on the staff to come back and to give back to the community,’ Olige said.
Olige graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2018 and with the help of Darrell Wallace, they established the nonprofit Youth Style Fitness (YSF) to help students stay physically fit while also learning about nutrition, mental health, conflict resolution and goal setting.
“We don’t know what every student experiences at home so it’s our way of helping them release trauma so they can perform better in school and make those positive decisions,” Olige said.
Wallace, who’s also from Charlotte is the Vice President and Community Director for YSF.
“It has enabled me to coordinate events directed to the inner city in which I represent,” Wallace said. “Our programs help the kids by giving them outlets and life skills that they can apply.”
YSF has roughly 80 active students from CMS and other community organizations. The YSF staff members also volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club and the Salvation Army. The organization provides free workouts, mental health support, and nutrition resources from registered staff in each field.
“I believe we have some bright students who need a little extra motivation and being provided some positive opportunities so that’s what we’re here to do for them,” Olige said.
Trell Grady is one of the many students who spend each week with Olige and Wallace. He first met them when he went to Piedmont IB Middle School and got consistently involved in 2020 after he transferred from his first high school to Cato Middle College High School.
Grady left behind football, track, and wrestling to pursue his high school diploma and associate’s degree with Cato Middle College, but says he gained valuable and supportive mentors at YSF.
“I want to be academically strong, physically strong, and mentally strong, that’s my overall goal,” Grady said.
Grady is interested in pursuing a Computer Science degree from either Stanford, North Carolina A&T, NC State, or Chapel Hill. He is also interested in videography, photography and media.
Olige hopes by sharing this story it will reach more students in the greater Charlotte-Mecklenburg area and inspire more community organizations to give back to students.
Olige took a stand at a recent CMS board meeting to share his program after hearing about the 30 guns found at multiple CMS campuses during the 2021-22 school year, countless fights, and dozens of threats.
“It doesn’t sit well with me, so that’s why I use Youth Style Fitness to provide youth with opportunities to express themselves in other ways whether it be fitness, nutrition, eating, or speaking with somebody,” he said.
Grady says he’s not only hitting personal records, he’s using the skills and principles he’s learned at school in his own mentorship program.
“I’m making sure that I can be a great leader to them and give them resources that Youth Style Fitness has given to me with being academically strong, physically strong, and mentally strong,” he said.
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