When Yolanda and Tarus Nelson watched their daughter, Asia excel as a young triathlete in the Washington, DC Metropolitan region, they noticed something amazing. She was one of a small handful of kids of color that competed in the races where participants had to swim, bike and run to the finish line.
My first race, I will never forget, said Asia, now an 18-year-old business student at Bowie State University. It was such a different feeling from playing a sport and winning a game. It was the best feeling you could have.
Although Asia was extremely active as a member of the basketball and soccer teams, she was often discouraged by the lack of play time in team sports. The positive emotional and physical results experienced by their daughter in triathlons were eye-opening and sparked a passion for inclusion in the multisport industry.
Meet the STRIVE Jr. Elite Members racing in the 3K Swim For The Potomac on September 26th at the National Harbor.
They decided to create a nonprofit corporation called, Strive 2 Tri, a multilevel triathlon program that featured youth from ages 7 to 17. Established in 2011, the Strive mission is simple yet multi-faceted: promotion of healthy lifestyle choices through structured multisport programming. Ranging from free aquatic based camps that instruct basic water safety skills, USA Triathlon (USAT) sanctioned youth friendly races and a development triathlon club for all ability levels, Strives diverse programming palette was designed for universal functionality.
Now with a 5 person Board of Directors that are all African American women and former or current multisport athletes, this group, forged from the concerns of parents, is here to permanently rewrite the narrative of the possibilities for young athletes of color.
It just seemed to happen just evolve, said Yolanda Nelson, co-founder of Strive of the programs early stages. You know how some things just seem to fall into place, even if you dont know where it is going to come from. We pretty much paid for the first two years out of pocket.
Strive is now established as the DMV’s only triathlon program that brings diversity to the youth athletic pool since the programs inception, its success is evident in the high participation rate of 150-300 young athletes across regions like Prince George’s County, MD, Baltimore and more, the metrics are clear. Increased aquatic proficiency for communities of color and lifeguard and coaching certifications for former students that have aged out and now have sustainable careers in aquatics and multisports.
In partnership with M-NCPPC we have established an After School Program which targets at-risk youth with a Swim/Run Camp in Prince George’s County MD. In our 1st year of this partnership we have over 25 youths eager to learning the fundamentals of swimming and water safety.
“We are looking forward to expanding upon the success of previous Strive seasons for the most robust year yet, said Tarus Nelson, Executive Director of Strive. “With great continuing partnerships and increased interest across the board, Strive will remain focused on being a beacon of hope for the diversity of multisports.
The program has a successful cycle of employing members who have since gone off to college, such as siblings Carlos and Pam Salazar, who have participated for several years and return each summer for the programs Splash N Dash Camp to work as assistant coaches.
Strive is looking forward to its 2018 season with programming additions such as adult races facilitating a fun noncompetitive entrance into the world of multisports. With the race season starting in June and ending in July in Baltimore, MD, Strive is looking to ease the past community unrest in Charm City targeting its underserved communities. With plans to go nationwide, Strive 2 Tri is challenging the culture of triathlons and leading the charge as stewards of a new brigade of diverse multisport athletes.