Program helps young girls value fitness

A Bay Area non-profit just received a grant to help young girls realize the benefits of staying fit.

The program helps train young minds to value a healthy lifestyle and become overall better citizens.

At The Skills Center in Tampa, sixth grade girls take spin classes for the first time.

"Our goal is for them to get physically active through sports," the center's executive director, Celeste Roberts said.

The girls are taking part in a research project to help them understand the importance of good health.

"If we can start girls younger, being more active, being responsible in their health and nutrition at a very young age, they are more apt, long term, to have physical good health," said Roberts.

The federal government awarded $800,000 to the center for the program. The project is called Youth Engagement in Sports or Y.E.S. The two-year grant will serve 600 kids in Hillsborough County.

"We have 15 different sports, from your very traditional sports to your non-traditional sports, such as rowing, cycling, skateboarding," explained Roberts.

The center was one of 18 programs that receive the grant.

This is the first time Aroana Echols has been part of a sports program.

"I like being outside and getting my heart and body pumping," Aroana said.

Roberts says the program has other benefits, too.

"Sports give them the opportunity to build the self-confidence that they have, cognitive skills that they have, the relationships the positive relationships and just really be around positive people," she explained.

The program has different sites throughout Hillsborough County. For more information, visit