Founded in 1972 as a gymnastics club, TWIGS Kids now resides in a sprawling 20,000-square-foot facility staffed by enthused staffers. The gym’s name, which stands for True Winners in God’s Service, reflects its mission of providing gymnastics, swimming, and cheer activities and instruction for kids ages 3–18 in a Christian environment. Cheer and gymnastics lessons simultaneously bolster students’ flexibility, coordination, confidence, and ability to best invisible friends in monkey-bar competitions. Amid the heated waters of Dolphin Cove, teachers and pupils soak their feet while lifting floating barbells and riding noodle floats during swimming lessons. An in-house café welcomes visitors to recharge their empty fuel tanks with refreshing snacks, while a gift shop displays colorful gym attire from designers including GK Elite Sportswear and Melody Leotards.
In 1980, Harry and Darlene Kelton moved their houseboat to the Pelican Harbor Marina and discovered an injured brown pelican. Without the aid of animal-care experience, they removed a fishhook from his mouth and rehabilitated him. This led them to form the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station in their shed. With the help of volunteers and trained staff, the seabird station rescues, treats, and rehabilitates sick and injured wildlife, and promotes their preservation with educational programs and research efforts. The center specializes in brown pelicans, most of which are entangled in fishing tackle, but will treat any animal brought in for care. In 2007, they treated 87 bird species and 39 mammals, nonmigratory birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
Since 1989, The Miami Symphony Orchestra has mimicked Miami’s cultural diversity with concerts and events that act as a melting pot of musical influences. Music director Eduardo Marturet, a Venezuelan composer and conductor, helms many of the concerts, encouraging the musicians to unleash their inner Beethovens or Bachs—former members of the ’80s hair-metal band Skid Row.
The Big Heart Paddle challenges philanthropic paddleboarders with 3- and 5-mile races, the proceeds of which benefit Bravery Beads, an organization dedicated to serving children with cancer. A sprawling 3-mile course welcomes any type of standup board, which racers steer through the water using standard paddles or inflatable pool noodles. The competitive 5-mile race allows only 12.5-inch stock boards, supplying loaners to those who need them, and putting entrants of all experience levels on an even playing field in order to show off refined paddling techniques or the ability to leap from board to dolphin back. Kicking off with a prerace coffee and breakfast, the event extends into a party, boasting an array of energy boosters such as a DJ, photo booth, and free beer, with event sponsors including Kona Brewery, Fratelli La Bufala, Lime Fresh Mexican, Zico, and more. All participants and spectators can attend, taking the opportunity to witness the Most Stylish Paddle award and to swap anecdotes about besting Poseidon.
The Healing Factory instructs youth ages 5–17 on proper breathing, simple yoga stretches and poses, and meditation, and provides holistic instruction in art, dance, and nutrition. While practicing yoga and meditation, young participants learn to balance their physical bodies, their emotions, and the unwieldy scales of justice through specific exercises and deep-breathing techniques. Regular yoga practice can also enhance concentration and information retention, and meditation can help reduce violent urges and improve kids' abilities to resolve conflicts. La Luchi would like to purchase yoga mats for graduates of the Healing Factory program to encourage them to continue to nurture their newfound meditative practices at home.
An evaluation of a Washington, DC Power Lunch program conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and the American Institutes for Research showed that 25% of poor readers who participated in the program improved their academic performance and 16% improved or very much improved their classroom behaviors. To launch the Power Lunch program at a new school, Everybody Wins! must first be able to fund and place its own school coordinator at the program site. School coordinators organize the reading mentors, match them with students, set up the reading space, and serve as a liaison among the school, organization, and volunteers.