Weight room makeover helps boost fitness for Denver students

Denver weight room makeover

North High School near downtown Denver boasts a storied legacy. Constructed in 1911, the building still serves as a modern-day school.

More than a century later, perhaps nowhere else is the school’s history more evident than in North’s athletic wing, where part of the outdated fitness area still had a dirt floor.

“North High School has needed this love for a long time,” said Kevin Bendjy, North High School’s assistant principal. “It's been decades. And we're so happy that we got the renovation. Students walk into this room now and they are feeling the energy of a new space that is designed for their fitness and their nutrition.”

UnitedHealthcare’s “Do Good. Live Well.” volunteer initiative teamed up with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation (CRSF) for the Team8 Tour to renovate Denver’s North High along with other high school weight rooms and youth-focused community organizations across the country. In total, the 2019 tour completed renovations in ten cities, impacting more than 15,000 youth, coaches and staff.  

“Making an investment of our time and energy is an investment in the future of this neighborhood, investment in health of the kids that are going to school here, and helps everyone in the community understand how important it is to have a space for health, a space for movement and that everybody needs to play a part in it,” said Patrick Gordon, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Rocky Mountain Health Plans.

CRSF chooses schools in distressed neighborhoods for these lessons of health and nutrition through sports-themed programming. The renovations help bolster student wellness, both physical and mental. Beyond the renovation of school fitness centers, CRSF also leads activities like building food pantries or community gardens.

“We think the renovations here at North High School are going to do wonders for the community,” said Travis Punt, Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation’s assistant director of program operations. “It invites them to stay here and then interact with their coaches, their teachers, mentors and put them on a positive path in life.”

Dozens of volunteers moved heavy boxes of new fitness equipment into North High School before completing the daylong effort to transform the space. 

“It makes me smile because they come out here to help us like achieve our goals and what we want to do in society and play the sports that we want to play,” said Lawrence West, a North football player. “It just gives me goosebumps sometimes because without them helping our community then we would have the rusty dumbbells and stuff. I really like that.”

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