Colleen Bannister knows the value of fitness.
It promotes self-esteem. It helps prevent obesity-related health problems. It can create camaraderie.
She also knows some kids aren't exposed to it, and she wants to change that.
The owner of 6 Week Workout, a personal training studio in Carson City, Bannister is looking to form an after-school fitness program for underprivileged youth between the ages of 8 and 11.
"Obesity is a huge problem right now," she said. "It's becoming a problem with kids. If we can teach them at a young age, it will just be a way of life for them."
Bannister got the idea when she opened the studio to drop-ins on Friday nights. She started to see moms bringing in their children to work out together.
"It was totally a family night," she said.
After workouts, she saw how her clients' children, along with her own son, would run out to play with the abandoned exercise balls, jump ropes and trampolines.
"The kids go crazy on the equipment," she said. "To them, it's like a big playground."
She plans to begin the Kids Boot Camp in May with about 20 children. Parents can pay what they can afford or pay nothing at all.
Bannister said she will donate her time, as will other trainers who volunteered to help. Clients also have pledged to donate to the program for T-shirts and other costs.
The program will run much like the boot camps offered at the studio, Bannister said, with obstacle courses that combine tires, miniature trampolines, balls and ramps.
There also will be games and other activities.
"Participating in things and being part of a group makes kids feel good," she said. "I want them all to feel like they belong to something."
At the end of each day, speakers will come in to talk to the children about different careers. So far, Bannister said she has lined up some guest speakers, but is looking for more.
"I want them to be exposed to a lot of different people," she said.
The boot camp is set to run for a month, but she may extend it if it's successful.
Bannister said she started the program as a way to contribute in tough economic times.
"It was one way that I felt I could help in the community even if just a little bit," she said. "Like many people I wish I had the money to help on a larger scale, but I would like to remind people that we are valuable for who we are as people not just what we can give monetarily."
Anyone interested in signing up for the program or to contribute financially or to volunteer to speak, contact Colleen Bannister at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to P.O. Box 2985, Carson City, NV 89702.
Bannister said she is looking for guest speakers "with interesting jobs, good role models or people who kids see as heroes."