NEWINGTON, N.H., March 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In a class of 20 kids in the U.S., an average of at least 4 (22%) have experienced psychological or physical abuse by a peer at school. Across the country, a child is bullied approximately every 7 seconds. Similarly, nearly 1 out of 4 (24%) Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) teens aged 13+ admit they were bullied in the last year, according to newly-released data from Boys & Girls Clubs of America's 2015 National Youth Outcomes Initiative Report. These statistics are shocking and all-too-common – in fact, nearly 8 in 10 parents report that bullying is a top concern while raising their kids.
To help tackle this important issue, Planet Fitness, one of the largest and fastest-growing franchisors and operators of fitness centers in the U.S., is teaming up with the country's leading anti-bullying organization, STOMP Out Bullying™, and BGCA, the nation's leading youth development organization, to launch the Company's new national philanthropic initiative, The Judgement Free Generation™.
This is the first initiative of its kind to focus on combatting bullying in the afterschool setting. With targeted programs and educational resources designed to empower teens and Boys & Girls Club professionals, this unique three-way partnership will build off Planet Fitness' Judgement Free Zone® and "No Gymtimidation" philosophy to create a culture where bullying is not accepted and kindness prevails. Planet Fitness, in collaboration with its franchisees, is committing $1.3 million over the next two years to support the program. And, with BGCA Clubs serving nearly 4 million kids and teens through membership and community outreach around the country, Planet Fitness stands to reach a significant number of our nation's young people.
"At Planet Fitness, being judgement free is core to what we stand for as a brand, and we have seen first-hand the great things that people can accomplish when they feel welcomed and accepted. Today, we are excited to expand this philosophy beyond our clubs and into our communities," said Chris Rondeau, Chief Executive Officer of Planet Fitness. "By collaborating with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and STOMP Out Bullying, we will empower today's teens to choose kindness and create a generation where everyone feels like they belong."
"On behalf of the Planet Fitness franchisees and as the leader of the Franchisee Advisory Council, we are so excited to partner with BGCA and STOMP Out Bullying," said Dave Leon, Planet Fitness FAC Chairman and franchisee. "As a Boys & Girls Club alumni myself, I personally know the impact local Clubs can make on kids and teens, and look forward to kicking off this partnership."
Ross Ellis, founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying said, "Unfortunately, we are witnessing a crisis as bullying cases continue to rise. Our goal is to collaborate in how we take action to protect our teens. STOMP Out Bullying's award-winning curriculum focuses on prevention which has already made a lasting impact in schools across the country. We are grateful for the opportunity to naturally extend our impact to the afterschool setting through the partnership with Boys & Girls Club of America. Planet Fitness has put together a winning team and we are so appreciative of their generosity."
"At more than 4,100 locations around the country, Boys & Girls Club staff and caring mentors work to equip kids and teens with the skills they need to achieve a great future, including education and support around bullying prevention," said Jim Clark, BGCA president and Chief Executive Officer. "We are proud to partner with Planet Fitness to empower even more young people to identify bullying and to alternatively create a culture of kindness, inclusivity and positive relationships."
As part of the Judgement Free Generation initiative, Boys & Girls Clubs will roll out activities such as developing staff training in collaboration with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and project grants for local Boys & Girls Clubs to implement their best ideas for creating a generation of "judgement free" teens. Planet Fitness franchisees and staff will also build relationships with local Boys & Girls Clubs through volunteerism, mentorship and more. In addition, from March 17-18, Planet Fitness will participate in BGCA's National Keystone Conference in Dallas, TX. During this annual gathering of Club teen leaders, the Company and STOMP Out Bullying will host several pro-kindness, anti-bullying educational activities.
For more information about The Judgement Free Generation, please visit planetfitness.com/givingback.
About Planet Fitness
Founded in 1992 in Dover, N.H., Planet Fitness (NYSE: PLNT) is one of the largest and fastest-growing franchisors and operators of fitness centers in the United States by number of members and locations. With more than 1,000 locations in 47 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the Dominican Republic, Planet Fitness' mission is to enhance people's lives by providing a high-quality fitness experience in a welcoming, non-intimidating environment, which we call the Judgement Free Zone®. More than 90% of Planet Fitness stores are owned and operated by independent business men and women.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,100 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at Facebook and Twitter.
About STOMP Out Bullying™
STOMP Out Bullying™ is the leading national anti-bullying and cyberbullying organization for kids and teens in the U.S. Created in 2005, STOMP Out Bullying™ is recognized as the most influential anti-bullying organization in the country. It focuses on reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educating against homophobia, racism and hatred, decreasing school absenteeism, and deterring violence in schools, online and in communities across the country. It teaches effective solutions on how to respond to all forms of bullying, as well as educating kids and teens in school and online, providing help for those in need and at risk of suicide, raising awareness, peer mentoring programs in schools, public service announcements by noted celebrities, and social media campaigns. Learn more at www.STOMPOutBullying.org, Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE Planet Fitness