Wendy Hilliard expands free, low-cost gymnastics program for urban youth

Detroit native Wendy Hilliard is back home to launch an expansion of her gymnastics foundation in southeastern Michigan.

Joining FOX 2 is Wendy herself, founder and CEO of nonprofit Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation.

"The WHGF, a nonprofit organization that provides free and low-cost quality gymnastics programming for urban youth, is expanding its programming through classes offered at the City's newly renovated Kemeny Recreation Center for students ages 3-17. Because of its success and popularity since first launching in Detroit in 2016, WHGF programming will now be offered weekly at the Kemeny Recreation Center. Registering for weekly gymnastics classes will only cost $20 for Kemeny Center members. When the WHGF first launched in Detroit in 2016, Saturday gymnastics classes were offered once per week at the Joe Dumars Field House. With the 2019 expansion, the WHGF Detroit provides after school gymnastics classes to over 200 students per week through GOAL Line Detroit, a City-sponsored pilot program in Northwest Detroit which offers transportation and after school enrichment programs to students attending participating K-8 schools, and through the Boll Family YMCA of Metro Detroit.  

The partnership comes out of a multi-generational relationship between Detroit native, Wendy Hilliard and the City of Detroit Recreation Department. Her advocacy efforts to create opportunities for urban youth to have access to gymnastics were inherited from her role model, her mother, Mrs. Gwen Hilliard, who will receive a posthumous proclamation from the Detroit City Council at her memorial service on February 9, 2019. Gwen Hilliard worked as an administrator in the Detroit Public School System and convinced the Detroit Recreation Department to hire two Champion gymnastics coaches from the Soviet Union who were working in the suburbs. The result was the award-winning Detroit Metro Gymnasts (DMG) program, which developed National Champions, National Team Members, World Championship Competitors, a two-time Olympian and U.S. Hall of Fame Gymnast.  Gwen Hilliard also organized the Friends of DMG to raise money and host events for the team to cover travel costs. This served as the road map for WHGF and inspired Wendy to create high quality programs at the grassroots level to ensure the next generation of underserved youth had the opportunity to succeed in gymnastics as she did."