Brandy Cruthird, owner of Body By Brandy Fitness Center and Day Spa is providing urban kids access to wellness through her summer bike program, On My Way, On My Bike. A spinoff of Body By Brandy 4 Kidz (BBB 4 Kidz) launched in 2006, the bike program is a collaboration with Bikes Not Bombs out of Jamaica Plain and Mayor Thomas Menino’s Roll It Forward initiative.
The bike program teaches kids how to care for bikes, the rules of the road and, according to Cruthird, character.
“There’s a little girl in the program who couldn’t ride when she first started,” she explained. “Over time she learned how to ride. One day while we were biking, she fell. I go over to help her, but she didn’t want to get on the bike. I told her she was getting on that bike. Kids need to know that in life you’re going to fall down, but the important thing is to get back up.”
Each day at 10 a.m. the kids, ages 6-15, along with instructors ride around the city and finish the day back at the gym. Some of the youth instructors are alumni of Bikes Not Bombs who talk to the kids about violence and how to avoid it.
“We wanted to give kids access to different parts of the city,” Cruthird said. “We rode to the Christian Science Center downtown and also to Jamaica Plain. We’re trying to inspire them to get fit, give back to the community one day and just learn more about Boston.”
In the afternoon, the kids play games and do activities to break up the day. They do a variety of exercises to get them excited about working out. At the end of the program, which started July 6, and wraps up on Friday, Aug. 19, the children get to take the bikes, helmets and locks — donated through Roll It Forward — home with them.
One day as the kids were getting ready to ride, City Councilor Tito Jackson popped by and jumped in the fun. He rode with the kids and talked to them a bit about the program.
“Tito was like a big kid,” Cruthird said. “He jumped on his bike and rode with us. At the end, one of the little girls asked him about his job. This program creates access, and when you create access, you create possibilities.”
Cruthird remembers the first time someone passed her a basketball and how that moment has impacted her life. Cruthird later went on to play basketball at James Madison University.
As the summer winds down and the On My Way, On My Bike pilot program comes to an end, Cruthird said she will continue her commitment to health by ramping up her BBB 4 Kidz program, a collaboration with Children’s Hospital.
Children who are overweight and are given a prescription from a doctor from one of the local health centers can workout for free. The BBB 4 Kidz program shows kids and parents how to eat healthy with the help of nutritionists, exercise and health workshops.
“When I first opened, I was more focused on the kids. But in order for me to get the kids, I have to get the parents and teach them to be healthy role models for their children,” Cruthird said.
With more than 30 kids participating in the On My Way, On My Bike program, the effort seems to be a resounding success.
“I just want to teach kids how to feel good. The more you move, the more you improve,” Cruthird said.
For more information on Body By Brandy’s Fitness Center and Day Spa call 617- 442-2187.
*published in The Bay State Banner, 8/18/11