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Local youth will jump—not to mention tumble, vault, cartwheel, kip, somersault, and backflip—for joy when the new Rainy Lake Gymnastics Academy starts up here this fall.

The academy will be operating out of the Memorial Sports Centre auditorium, offering an alternative athletic activity which has not been available here since 2007.

Having more sports options for youth is vital. While none would argue that getting kids active is a bad thing, the truth of the matter is not all girls and boys are into hockey, let alone basketball, volleyball, soccer, badminton, curling or baseball.

Having swimming, a variety of martial arts, and now gymnastics also available are key to capturing the interest of more young people.

The benefits of gymnastics are myriad. Besides being a great way for youth to enhance their strength, co-ordination, flexibility and balance, burn calories and build stronger bones, they learn commitment and discipline.

What's more, gymnastics provides them with opportunities to learn social skills like listening, following directions, taking turns, being quiet, and respecting others.

They'll also learn to communicate with people their own age, work as a team, and engage with adults.

But like any other new sports club, starting a gymnastics academy isn't cheap—and that's where the communityy comes in.

The Rainy Lake Gymnastics Academy is one of five finalists in the Tbaytel for Good Community Fund competition vying for a $5,000 prize. If they win, they will use the funds for assistance with start-up equipment costs to bring gymnastics back to Fort Frances and surrounding communities.

The club is scheduled to open in September and would like to purchase floor exercise and balance beam equipment to maximize reach for children of various ages within the program.

Voting is now open until this Friday (June 21) and the link to vote is http://www.tbaytelforgood.net/poll/spring-2019-5000-category/

There's no registration required to vote and you can vote as many times as you want until the deadline.

The gymnastics academy has also teamed up with the Kiwanis Club to hold a earring raffle. The draw for a chance to win round, brilliant cut, three-claw “Martini” setting diamond earrings donated by Brockie's Jewellers (valued at $2,000) will be held on Monday, July 1 at 4 p.m. at the Point Park. Proceeds will help the Rainy Lake Gymnastics Academy.

Tickets are available at Lidkea Optometry and Investors Group as well as from Kiwanis Club and Gymnastics Academy members.

In the past couple of months, the club has also had a bottle drive and a paint night as fundraisers, and they will continue fundraising throughout the next year until they are able to purchase all the equipment needed. In total, this equipment (bars, vault, etc.) wil cost an estimated $106,000.

The Rainy Lake Gymnastics Academy is just getting off the ground thanks to the hard work of community volunteers, many of whom are parents.

Now it's time to do our part as a community and give the new club the boost it deserves to truly soar.

—Duane Hicks

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