What We Do
The RightFit afterschool program provides homework help, nutrition education, physical fitness, personal development, and dinner. These program segments occupy from 30-60 minutes on the clock, and each school works diligently to mix and match student after-school schedules with optimum program performance time periods. RightFit partners with public safety personnel, university students and other volunteers to assist with programming. The schools may also utilize parents and other volunteers to supplement the RightFit-provided ranks.
Purpose and Need
RightFit operates in schools where over 90% of students receive free or reduced lunch. Closing academic disparities is a strong focus of programing.
The Indiana State Police, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the IMPD Cadets, the Indiana Department of Corrections, and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will be participating in 2020. Students from IUPUI, Ivy Tech, Marian University, and the University of Indianapolis receive service learning credit by volunteering for RightFit. The short-term benefit from these volunteers is that students receive homework help and see grade improvement. In the long-term, positive relationships develop between inner-city students and public safety officials, and students are exposed to mentors who are college students, which hopefully can impact their mindset of what is possible in life.
Physical, Mental, & Behavioral Health Services Access
Many of RightFit’s students often experience trauma related to their own physical health, the health of their family members, or the fear that physical health or violence issues may spill over from their neighborhoods into their homes. RightFit programming will have a focus on addressing trauma, through preventative, reflective, and physical fitness activities.
RightFit collaborates with the Indiana Afterschool Network, Mindful Movement, the GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training) Program, Purdue Extension, the Peace Learning Center, Junior Achievement, the Indianapolis Urban League, and the Red Cross. The Mindful Movement program will be a weekly part of RightFit and will address physical fitness as well as orient students to using a peaceful spirit to help them cope with trauma. The GREAT Program is administered by international GREAT trainer Marilyn Gurnell. GREAT includes anti-bullying and gun safety elements. The Peace Learning Center will provide programming on peaceful conflict resolution.
Health and Wellbeing
RightFit operates in schools where most students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Because food insecurity impacts a significant number of families in central Indiana, dinner is a part of the RightFit program.
RightFit collaborates with the Purdue Extension and 4H to provide nutrition focused education for the entirety of the program. Programs are varied and include topics such as fruit and vegetable nutrition, sports programming, and computer learning. The Indianapolis Urban League also provides nutrition education activities. Physical fitness is also a core component to RightFit programming and takes place daily. Soccer, Mindful Movement and programming from the Indiana After School Network will address this component.
The Red Cross also partners to provide a very critical home safety service. Home fires are much more common in economically disadvantaged households. The Red Cross is also committed to presenting information regarding the availability of home smoke detectors.
Healthy Food Access
All schools in RightFit have the obligation to serve a FREE healthy, nutritious dinner to all RightFit students every day of the program. Programming from Purdue Extension also provides nutrition education.
RightFit will host two FREE family dinners at each RightFit school in 2020. RightFit recognizes that poverty and related issues are multi-generational and utilizes the dinners as an opportunity to bring together parents and siblings to engage and educate them about nutrition issues. Several community partners also attend each meal and share resources and nutritional information with families.
The collaborations that RightFit brings to the population that it serves makes a true difference, and creates opportunities for positive interactions to happen that probably would not occur absent of the program. RightFit students receive extra support from the university students and public safety professionals who connect with them to provide homework help, exercise activities, or enjoying dinner together. The Red Cross provides Home Fire Safety classes; the Purdue Extension teaches them about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables; and, the Peace Learning Center will teach them peaceful ways to resolve conflict. Junior Achievement programming will assist in financial literacy. These are just some of the collaborations that RightFit offers through its programming to provide a nurturing environment for the students. RightFit creates an environment that shows the students that the community cares about them and does this by having the community come to them.
The Indianapolis Indians are the largest overall supporter of RightFit. Indians sponsors are encouraged to support the RightFit program. RightFit receives volunteers and family dinners from the J W Marriott, funding and educational experience from Strada, and publicity from Comcast. All of these organizations have strong and positive relationships with the Indians Marketing Department, without whose support RightFit would not have been possible. There are 180 teams in Minor League Baseball. On a cumulative basis over the last seven years 2013-2019, the Indianapolis Indians rank first in attendance. Our RightFit Report for 2019 was done by the Indians Marketing Department. RightFit could have no better marketing partner.
Workforce Development and Economic Assets
The best predictor of how many jail cells a community is going to need in its future – is third grade reading level. RightFit programming specifically works to impact reading ability. Through its three years of programming, reading levels at RightFit schools have improved.
Workforce Development and Economic Assets
All children deserve a safe, nurturing environment and encouragement, and RightFit provides that through a free, positive, supervised afterschool care program. RightFit, at its heart, is really all about pride and hope. RightFit kids experience a two-hour program focused on them. A holistic program that focuses on homework help, nutrition education, physical fitness, character development and dinner services would not have happened at the schools without RightFit. There were various programs that offered one or two of the above features, but no other program offers them all. And no program featured the involvement of Public Safety as a part of the program.
RightFit is measuring its impact in several specific areas: comparisons regarding Mathematics, English/Language Arts, Attendance, Discipline, Nutrition Education and Physical Fitness will all be studied and results elevated. Special survey questions will also again be provided to the students and their family members at each family dinner. This will enable us to receive subjective feedback from an adult generation regarding the impact of RightFit on their children.
RightFit has the potential to be expanded across the community, in particular with other townships that have student populations with high free or reduced lunch rates and that have dedicated public safety personnel. These are the locations where it is often so critical to create positive bonds between our city’s students and members of public safety. RightFit is helping with that. We are living in a city that is trying to turn the corner. Community leadership recognizes the need for change. Methods of positive change are being discussed. The question is – not what we think - --but what will we do. Thinking about causes like RightFit is fine, but what will our community do – to support this effort, and those of a similar nature. The Crossroads of America – is at the crossroads. What we do must inspire others; to do what they are inspired about also.