Not long after having a baby with her husband Bradley, Samantha Snowden saw something on social media that piqued her interest. It was a child development training center called KidStrong that focuses on brain, physical and character development for kids who range in age from 12 to 14 months to 11 years. It originated in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2015 by Matt and Megin Sharp after they noticed that their 15-month-old daughter Ella seemed to crave challenges when it came to exploring her world. Nothing in the market worked for her so they started building things like rope climbs in their home in order to inspire her. She responded positively and was off and running – literally. At just 2 years old, she was crushing the monkey bars at the playground and jumping boldly, unafraid of trying new things.
Other children naturally gravitated to her, and their parents made a beeline to the Sharps, asking how they got their daughter to become so fearless and independent. The couple realized they had created something that many kids need, so they founded KidStrong.
“I thought it was the coolest thing ever, not only from a fitness perspective but also in terms of providing parents with a solid guideline of where kids should be and what they should be working on,” Snowden says. “That really hit home for me as I was a new parent who craved guidance, and they provided things for you to work on with your kids.”
Snowden, who had always wanted to own her own business, decided to open a KidStrong franchise in the Indianapolis area. Currently, 32 franchises exist and 20 are in presale status across the country.
“I loved the idea of being able to bring this to my home state,” says Snowden, who convinced her previous boss, Manuel Torres, to join her in the venture and become her business partner. They signed last July, and KidStrong in Noblesville is set to open this month.
The community response to the center has been tremendous. Those with younger kids are eager to get started, and those with older children lament the fact that such a program didn’t exist when their children were younger.
KidStrong is classified as a milestone accelerator, which means that they put kids in classes as soon as they are independent enough to walk across a room. This membership-based program enables students to attend one 45-minute class per week led by two professional KidStrong coaches. Each month they offer milestone work associated with their three pillars of focus (brain, physical and character development).
“We have a programming team of child development experts who do research to determine where kids need to be in order to be as successful as possible,” Snowden says. “We implement that into our curriculum and push it out month over month.”
At KidStrong, they have a “no quit” mentality. That doesn’t mean these kids are in boot camp. They are pushed at a comfortable level to complete the milestone work, but they are cheered on even if they don’t hit that milestone.
“We can stay after class and work on whatever they are struggling with,” Snowden says. “The sooner you can get them to overcome obstacles and things that are hard, it instills the grit and the confidence that I think generations right now just don’t really have.”
Adults naturally get a boost in confidence once they achieve a goal or overcome a challenge. For instance, in fitness, many adults tend to feel good when they run a faster mile or lift a heavier weight. The problem is that kids can’t really get involved in organized sports until they’re 5 years old.
“If we can start that mentality of, ‘Hey, there’s an obstacle in front of me and I need to overcome it,’ kids will become stronger and more confident,” Snowden says.
Parents certainly agree. Anna Parmley says her 3-year-old son recently went up to another boy in a doctor’s office waiting room, introduced himself, and started playing.
“He never would have known how to introduce himself or had the confidence to greet a peer without KidStrong,” she says.
This summer Snowden and her team will offer a KidStrong camp from July 25 to 29, as well as a two-day camp on August 1 and 2. They’ll offer many more camp options as the location gets established. Next year they’ll have camps all summer long. In addition, she has plans to build up to six more KidStrong centers in the Indianapolis region in the future.
Snowden stresses that putting time and energy into your children’s extracurricular activities serves to better them in the long run.
“Our goal is not to make kids great at KidStrong,” she says. “It’s to make kids great at life. The whole reason we exist is to give kids the confidence and leadership skills to be able to go out into the world and be great at whatever they want to do.”
KidStrong is located at 9510 East 146th Street, Suite 102 in Noblesville. For more information, call 812-366-2135 or visit kidstrong.com/noblesville. To learn more about this location and future locations, follow them on social media.
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