We provide a safe, structured space that promotes lifelong study, exercise and nutritional habits.
Scholars achieve demonstrable improvement in aerobic and anaerobic fitness measures annually.
Scholars develop the independent exercise, study and nutritional habits necessary to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
They have reduced probability of future physical and mental health issues and increased life expectancy compared to similar demographic groups.
Regular exercise has been proven to be an effective tool in improving self-esteem, general mental health, and sleep while reducing stress, anxiety, and treating depression (National Institute of Health). This is why our organization integrates squash sessions into regular operations: to instill healthy exercise regimes for our scholars’ to take with them through college and beyond.
With squash being one of the most challenging cardio workouts, it is important to prepare the body for this type of activity. Therefore, squash sessions also include a physical fitness component. This ranges from interval training, strength and endurance training, speed and agility training, plyometric training, core stability training, and more.
Scholars learn to track their health outcomes by logging workouts via Google Sheets and their journals and are rewarded by leveling up 5 on fitness tests. Workouts are often sent home digitally over school breaks to ensure that scholars stay active when regular programming is not in session! Students often participate in additional ad-hoc fitness training outside on the track or at the Downtown Club.
A nutritious diet, or lack thereof, can have a long-lasting impact on athletic performance, mental acuity, and overall wellness. Research shows that students from low-income households are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet:
- Food deserts, areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, tend to be inhabited by low-income residents (American Nutrition Association)
- Lack of nutritional foods leads to deficiencies in key vitamins such as vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate, which can cause personality changes, irritability, mood swings, depression, and memory problems (National Institute of Health)
A key goal of our organization is to create habitual awareness of how the body responds to different foods and to help students develop strategies for encouraging healthier eating during the school day and with their families at home. Typical activities include nutrition and cooking workshops, food diaries and meal planning activities. These often take place in conjunction with parents and guardians. Furthermore, only healthy foods and water provided are allowed for both staff and scholars to enforce our program’s healthy eating habits.
Each year, Mission Squash delivers 1,000 hours of fully staffed Squash, Fitness and programming, including 10 hours of family nutrition workshops and student nutrition workshops with our partner Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute. Additionally, from time to time, students take part in athletic activities outside of squash like rock climbing, soccer, or calisthenics, and learn about other aspects of mind and body wellness through workshops and trips.
Since the beginning of the program, we have come to understand that supporting our scholar’s wellness is not limited to physical fitness, but to overall socio-emotional health as well. These principles are backed up by Nationwide research that shows there is a great need for not only proper education and implementation of nutrition and exercise programs, but also mental health support and resources for students, especially for those in low-income families.
- Unemployment, poverty and housing unaffordability is correlated with a risk of mental illness (American Psychological Association)
- Among children living below the federal poverty level, more than 1 in 5 (22%) had a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
- 50% of cases of mental health issues begin by age 14 and ⅔ of students with anxiety or depression don’t seek treatment (ActiveMinds.org)
The Mission Squash Wellness Program is the backbone of the Mission Squash program because our other programs depend on it; our students cannot succeed in academics, squash, or college if they are not physically and psychologically well.