Aiming to out-perform previous Super Bowls, Indianapolis super-sized the 2012 community outreach project, focusing not just on one project, but on a whole community, Indianapolis's Near Eastside. On the city’s Near Eastside, residents had long struggled with crippling poverty, low education attainment and a dearth of amenities. For organizers, the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center represented both a way for Indianapolis to outshine other host cities’ generosity and a turning point for a community, all made possible by a football game.
|The Glick Fund provided support for two art pieces to commemorate the Super Bowl Legacy efforts. One is installed at the Legacy Center (pictured); the other is at the John H. Boner Community Center.|
The Legacy Center began as a normal community outreach project, with a $1 million investment from the National Football League. The city matched that contribution, but the community’s vision – for a health-focused facility that would offer positive opportunities for youth and physical fitness for families – required more funds. Many local donors added to the project’s bottom line, including The Glick Fund, and construction began in November 2010 on what would ultimately be an $11.3 million facility.
The Legacy Center opened in February 2012. With a combination of membership drives, organizational partnerships and community-focused programs, it has served just less than 1,300 youth and over 2,400 members in less than a year. Ultimately, what is distinctive about the center isn’t the number of people served; it is a focus on community and on addressing the needs of children, adults and seniors through action.
Violins, Vegetables and Volunteer Yogis
|One of Metropolitan Youth Orchestra's |
young violinists prepares for a class in a Legacy Center's classrooms.
The Legacy Center provides a home for diverse programs that serve many ages and interests. The south end of the building was designed to include classrooms, a greenhouse and a mini-production studio. Kids learn about computer technology with Coder Dojo, an organization that pairs tech-savvy volunteers with youth who want to learn about computer coding, one night of the week. Another group of young people design and build robots afterschool. College-bound athletes from neighboring Arsenal Technical High School attend a class designed to help them get ready for higher education. This spring, the garden beds next to the greenhouse will be filled with growing vegetables.
“It’s been a pleasure to come here and be welcomed, for us and for these kids, in such a warm environment,” says Ruth Wolff, Metropolitan Youth Orchestra Manager. Along with volunteers and program founder Betty Perry, Wolff works with a group of three- and four-year-old children learning to play violin weekly at the Center.
The partnerships extend into the fitness center, which has its own classrooms and a range of treadmills, exercise bikes and strength-training machines. Students from IUPUI help fitness center members assess their health and develop a training program. They also teach fitness classes, as do several volunteer instructors.
“Our partners make this space come alive,” says Ben Jones, Legacy Center Director. “We are careful to find the right partners to provide programs that fit community needs, both in terms of physical health and healthy lifestyles.”
Living Legacies at the Center
When the Indianapolis Senior Center closed in June 2012, a group of seniors were forced to search for anew place to exercise. They found the Legacy Center just a few blocks away, after a short walk underneath the interstate to the Legacy Center.
“We welcomed them,” says Jones. “And we also added a number of classes and moved several exercise machines to the first floor, to make sure we were serving them well and connecting with their interests.”
Currently, the Center offers Silver Sneakers, Senior Yoga classes and a variety of low-intensity classes – including line dancing – that are popular with their seniors, who make up almost one fifth of their members.
The Legacy Center aims to preserve this pattern of inclusion and focus on responsive programs. The Super Bowl XLVI organizing committee snowballed that $1 million community outreach investment into a total of $154 million in community investment. The Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center is using their part of those funds for an investment that will pay dividends – for community health and wellness.
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