In the spring, the coronavirus pandemic made it necessary to close schools, public spaces, and other businesses. But kids still needed a place to go to help keep them on track.
Before the pandemic, 42-year-old Allen Richardson was mentoring kids in Toledo by holding classes in public libraries.
When public buildings closed their doors due to the pandemic, Richardson decided to build All In Academy on Ashland Ave. in central Toledo.
“Once the pandemic hit a lot of things shut down. I couldn’t use the library anymore, we couldn’t go to the gym, so I decided to get my own space,” said Richardson.
He describes his brainchild as a character-based program teaching kids the importance of education, proper dieting, and physical fitness.
The program serves mostly African-American youth between the ages of 7 and 15.
Richardson offers 90-minute classes with snacks, boxing or football, and a donated hot meal prepared by Black Rock Restaurant.
He only takes ten students at a time, so that the kids can spread out and social distance.
They bring their own yoga mats to exercise and are expected to sanitize them with each use.
“We focus on character. We focus on food. Proper eating and fitness,” he said.
Richardson built the academy on his own, with his own money, turning an empty building in central Toledo into his own classroom space.
He works in the restaurant industry and has 4 kids of his own.
He hopes to teach the kids in his program the values he wants to leave his own kids with.
“Statistics show, when kids get proper character, they do better in school, when kids eat a nutritious meal, they do better in school, and when kids have proper fitness, they do better in school," said Richardson, whose children are 3, 7, 8, and 20.
To enroll in All In Academy, Richardson encourages parents to reach out to him by phone or through the A.B.L.E. program.