Tragically and unexpectedly Willie passed away in April 2013. We now are committed to serving the purpose that Willie started. Even after his passing many are honoring his legacy and his work. At his funeral service Willie was called an "Angel" among us.
In addition to his work with the Austin Foundation, Willie has served as an instructor and coach for the Washington State Special Olympics and as a consultant for the Seattle Public Schools Physical Education department. Willie received many recognitions and awards. In 1998 the Seattle Times recognized Willie's contribution to the community by listing him as one of "20 Northwest people who have made a difference". In 2008 Washington State Mindful Mentor Award by the Guiding Lights Network. He received several awards from the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Parks and Recreation Department.
Willie first began giving back to the community by serving as a guest speaker on physical fitness and drug-free living. During his on-campus presentations at area schools in 1990s, Willie began to recognize the growing need for accessible youth fitness programs. He saw first hand youth struggling with diabetes, obesity, and asthma, many of whom weren't comfortable in regular gym class settings. He saw kids who couldn't afford the cost of athletic programs or didn’t have safe access to physical fitness activities.
Willie was a well-respected strength coach and personal trainer who coached national and world champion weightlifters and trained both amateur and professional athletes. He has worked as a trainer at the downtown YMCA and as manager of the West Seattle health club. In 1988 Willie founded the Gym of Seattle, in 1992 he founded the Gateway Athletic Club and in 2004 he founded the Now Is Fitness Center and home of the Austin Foundation.
A native of West Memphis, Arkansas, Willie Austin first joined the greater Seattle community in 1980 when he came to play football for the University of Washington. Following his career as a defensive back for the Huskies, Willie chose to remain in the Pacific Northwest and continue pursuing his love of health and fitness. He began focusing on strength training, and by 1990 was the World Drug Free Powerlifting Champion.
WHO WE ARE - CONFRONTING A HEALTH CRISIS
Austin Foundation's MISSION is to transform lives, through education, positive mentors and providing accessible, safe, interactive opportunities for young people to experience the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Today's youth face serious challenges to their basic health and well being. Our youth are eating worse and exercising less, often as a result of factors out of their control. A growing number of youth confront serious health issues such as stress, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and violence. These health problems carry lasting implications and if left unchecked can severely affect a child's long-term quality of life.
Local schools are increasingly being forced to reduce or cut physical education programs altogether and scale back school lunch programs. The health crisis affects youth in low income communities the most. 20% of African American, Hispanic, and Native American children ages 6-19 are considered overweight, well above the national average. Youth in these communities have limited access to healthy foods and safe places to engage in physical activity. Making matters worse, a growing number of young people face violence or the threat of violence in their daily lives.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "the major barriers most people face when trying to increase physical activity are time, access to convenient facilities, and safe environments in which to be active."
The Austin Foundation provides free fitness and nutrition education for thousands of Seattle/King County area young people ages 5 to 25 each year. The Austin Foundation hosts a wide variety of fitness and youth development programs at sites around the city, each of which is tailored to help young people develop physically, socially, emotionally and mentally. The Austin Foundation bridges racial and socioeconomic inequities in health, providing young people the tools and inspiration to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
While many youth organizations focus on team athletics, the Austin Foundation mentors and educates youth in cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility, strength training and eating a healthier diet. This model allows each participant "client" to undergo a positive physical transformation that can carry over into other areas of his or her life. By focusing on individual fitness, each child develops a sustainable set of skills and motivation to live a healthy for life.
Young people exit our programs as FIT citizens of the world, and many find the transformation in themselves so inspiring that they become passionate advocates for youth fitness education and equality. Ultimately, the Austin Foundation educates and empowers new generations of young leaders
With every in-school fitness presentation Willie Austin gave in the early 90's, he came face to face with a growing health epidemic. The youth he met faced dwindling school fitness programs. Most did not have the means or safe access to join sports leagues, and too many were developing serious health issues at a young age. Kids with asthma. Kids with diabetes. Kids struggling with obesity.
Seeing a clear need for youth health fitness education and programs, Willie Austin began offering the Youth and Fitness training program at the Gateway Athletic Club in 1994. The intent of the program was to provide youth with essential fitness activities and to connect them with caring personal trainers dedicated to their physical, mental, emotional and personal development.
In 1997, the Austin Foundation birth as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to meeting the need for youth fitness programming in the Seattle/King County area. Centered on the signature Youth and Fitness program, the Austin Foundation began offering free fitness and health classes at locations around the city. Through partnerships with local schools, community centers and other youth serving agencies, the foundation has been able to expand its program coverage and reach a broader spectrum of underserved youth.
We at the Austin Foundation have been fortunate enough to be able to continue to increase the programs offered and the number students reached thanks to the generous support of our community. Today the Austin Foundation runs a number of after school fitness programs, evening fitness programs at partnering community centers and in-school fitness programs at numerous schools throughout the Seattle/King County area. The Austin Foundation continued to expand its programs and pursue partnerships to make our community healthier and safer.
The highest quality of life includes physical, emotional, mental and social components. A high level of fitness in one of these areas enhances the other areas, and a low level in any of the areas restricts achievements possible in other areas. Through fitness we not only increase the performance of our physical activities but also enhance our emotional stability, social confidence, and mental alertness/clarity.
Leading a fit and healthy lifestyle will:
• improve circulation
• improve cardiovascular fitness
• develop muscle tone
• increase flexibility
• build strength and endurance
• decrease body fat percentage
• increase lean muscle tissue
• enhance sports performance
• build a stronger immune system
• reduce stress
• enhance energy
• create higher self esteem and respect
Components of Fitness:
Transforming the lives of our youth would be impossible without the talents, dedication and energy of our incredible volunteers. Volunteering with the Austin Foundation gives you the chance to make a direct impact with youth and their families who need guidance and self confidence.
We're always looking for new volunteers to help in a number of areas:
Social Media Support
Your gift allows the Austin Foundation to provide underserved youth with health, nutrition and fitness training in a safe environment that encourages them to reach their full potential. Together, we can have a positive impact on the health and development of youth and families in our community.
Two Easy Ways to Donate
Online: Click the Donate button to donate instantly via Pay Pal
2.Or mail to:
3518 Fremont Ave N #579
Seattle WA 98103
Employer Giving & Employee Matching
Employees can stretch their philanthropy even further by doubling their contributions through their employer's matching gift company program. Contact your Human Resources department to see if your company participates in a matching company gift program. The Austin Foundation is also registered with the Washington State Employee Combined Fund Drive Corporate Donations and Foundations.
The Austin Foundation's free fitness programs are a sustainable solution to the epidemic of inactivity causing poor health and violence facing our youth today. We provide constructive health activities to over 3,000 racially and ethnically diverse students.
We are currently in need of the following :
Pro Bono Office and Programming Space
Adopt a Program and/or Event Sponsorship
The Austin Foundation runs several programs and hosts annual fundraising events. By sponsoring an Austin Foundation program and/or event, your organization will gain exposure with an influential audience of generous contributors and community leaders who share your passion for supporting the development of our youth. Event sponsors are formally recognized not only at the event, but also within our website.