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Victoria gym raises funds to upgrade school in Zambia

After a tough year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a gym in Victoria is giving back to children and their families in Zambia in the lead up to Christmas.

Despite facing challenges from the ongoing lockdowns, members of Be Strong Fitness Geelong have come together to raise money for a school in Zambia.

The primary school, a run-down concrete classroom in a remote community east of the capital, Lusaka, is close to Be Strong Fitness Geelong co-director Joanne’s heart.

For two years the mother-of-four has been sponsoring, through ChildFund Australia, seven-year-old Flavian, who attends the school.

Through Facebook and emails, Joanne asked gym members to contribute to a group donation. Together, Be Strong Fitness Geelong members raised $550, which will be used to repair and upgrade Flavian’s primary school as well as provide students and teachers with blackboards.

Joanne says the decision to reach out to members and organise a community fundraiser for Flavian and his community was easy. It was a simple way to make a difference in the lives of many children.

“Be Strong Fitness Geelong is a strong family-valued community,” she says.  “Flavian and his community have become part of our family community here, and being able to contribute to Flavian and his community is a very rewarding feeling.”

“I was so proud of every member of our gym for the contribution they were able to put forward, especially with the current climate affecting a lot of people financially,” Joanne says.

The funds raised by Be Strong Fitness Geelong, in Victoria, will be used to upgrade seven-year-old Flavian’s primary school in Zambia.

The Be Strong Fitness Geelong community has long supported children’s charities and causes in Australia and overseas, says Joanne. “We do a few pop-up fundraisers though the fitness industry and help out where we can with local families or community events.

“We have stayed away from the more traditional style gyms and have targeted inclusion and family groups.  We reach out to kids and teens to give them a safe, healthy and inviting place to hang out with friends.”

Joanne’s right-hand and the gym’s community fundraiser co-ordinator, Katherine, says she was surprised to see images of Flavian’s school.

“It looked quite run-down,” Katherine says. “It just shows how lucky we are to have what we have here, and made me feel good that we could support Flavian and his community.

“Fundraising has always been a big part of the Be Strong community. We’ve had fundraisers for different charities. I think it’s important. We try to be a very community-based gym and give back and do lots of things locally.

“We’re very lucky, especially this time of the year.”

The Be Strong Fitness gym community. Gym co-director Joanne says: “Everyone working for one cause to help bring some joy to another person and their community builds camaraderie.”

With the success of the recent online fundraiser, Be Strong Fitness Geelong are hoping to run more fundraising events in the new year. Some ideas on the table include movie and raffle nights.

“I am hoping with less restrictions, we can run an event to help raise funds and make it a little more interactive,” Joanne says.

“Our gym works hard to support everyone in their goals and in life. Everyone working for one cause to help bring some joy to another person and their community builds camaraderie.

“Seeing how the funds can help Flavian’s community has been very overwhelming. Our members are very proud to have the opportunity to help.”

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