Thousands of kids get Geared for Health

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Thousands of central Indiana kids are getting Geared for Health.

It's a program the Indiana Sports Corporation started six years ago to make sports more accessible to underserved kids. For those able to help out, it's sort of like Christmas in July.

Shawn Cowherd and Michelle Stump were having a field day at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Tuesday morning. The two were sorting through row after row of boxes lined up in the atrium. Those boxes contained all sorts of new and gently-used sports gear.

Picking up everything from football jerseys and basketballs to mouth guards and jump ropes, Cowherd said, "This equipment and everything here is a blessing and a benefit to the communities who are in need."

Cowherd and Stump work for Indy Parks. He's the park manager at the Windsor Park Family Center on the city's east side.

"These are a lot of things we're needing for the center," he said as he loaded up another shopping cart with help from a Sports Corp volunteer.

Windsor Park is one of 100 youth-serving organizations across the city that benefited from the giveaway. Over the last six years, Geared for Health has collected more than a million dollars worth of equipment, all donated, from manufacturers, retailers, events and individuals.

Cowherd said over 80 percent of those living in Windsor Park's neighborhood are under age 21.

"It's a low-income neighborhood," he said. "It helps to give the neighborhood some energy and to spur some interest in doing different things that they're not able to do, like exposing kids to different sports such as lacrosse and tennis."

Once they arrived at the center, Cowherd and Stump wasted no time giving away some of the gear. Some teenage boys received athletic socks, shirts and footballs.

Demetriana Mathis received a volleyball and two shirt saying, "it was nice of them to give me this stuff. I like volleyball, so it makes me happy."

Five-year-old Azianya Jackson ripped open her new jump rope and began skipping.

"I like to jump rope and I like to dance around. It's great," she said.

Cowherd smiled the whole time.

"It's good to have things to give back to the community," he said. "It's a blessing to be able to do that and see the kids faces light up."

Some of the equipment will stay at the center for structured sports, equipment they never would have had without Geared for Health.

"Thank you, Sports Corp, thank you," Cowherd said as he organized the gear into piles, noting it will definitely "boost morale."