Spend your Saturdays With Us!

By Nicole Fogarty

A community member raising a question at the Growth and Goals Academy.

What are you doing this weekend? Hopefully spending it at Henry Street!

The Settlement now offers three free Saturday classes – adult fitness, youth dance and business basics – at 301 Henry Street. Classes are open to all, 100 percent free and tons of fun!

In the adult fitness class, Infinite Fit, the supportive environment is as important as exercise. Creator, instructor and Henry Street Community Advisory Board (CAB) member Shaheeda Yasmeen creates a space where participants can network and build a community of support while toning the body with High-Intensity Interval Training and dance-based fitness. The goal is to support mental and emotional well being through breathing, meditation and positive affirmations.

The Saturday programming has only been in place for a little under a month, but participants are already feeling its impact. “As a woman who has to balance the responsibility of home and work, Infinite Fit provides a space where I can prioritize myself and focus on self-care,” said one participant. “The environment is supportive, non-judgmental, from both Shaheeda and the other people in the group.”

Til Infinity, the youth dance class also conceived and taught by Yasmeen, gives students tools to explore more than just dance. “We want our young artists to increase awareness of social justice issues through the arts, connect with their abilities, develop their inner strength, develop their talents and shine,” she explained.

The class, intended for youth ages 5-13, focuses on cultural dance genres including Old Skool and Nu Skool Hip Hop, transformative and inspirational liturgical dance (or praise dance), and dances of the African Diaspora.

Creator, instructor and Henry Street CAB member Shaheeda Yasmeen, left foreground, leading the Youth Dance Class.

Yasmeen realized the profound effect activities like these could have after attending Settlement programs as a child.. “Arts and wellness have been my blueprint for happiness, freedom and self-expression since childhood. I wanted to lend my hand (and experience) to guide people to make positive health choices while making memories, just like I did as a kid,” she said..” Often mental health and physical health coincide, and I began fitness classes as a way to provide women, especially women of color, with an empowering space to explore self-care.”

Shifting gears from the gym to the classroom, Henry Street also offers business classes for beginners on Saturdays. Called Growth and Goals Academy, the classes are led by CAB member Martin Medina.

These classes, recommended for ages 13 and up, provide basic business skills to inspire professional development and direction. Participants learn about branding and design, how to develop a business plan, how to navigate business legal needs, networking skills, financial literacy and more.

“The more we grow, the closer we get to our goals,” Medina said. “By providing these motivational courses, along with bringing in guest speakers from the community, Growth and Goals shows people that they have to power within them to achieve their vision of success..”

Medina is no stranger to the concepts outlined in the classes – born and raised on the Lower East Side, he’s always been drawn to community work. He worked in the fashion industry, for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), and at a neighboring settlement house before founding Why Not Care, Inc., his nonprofit organization, which birthed the Growth and Goals Academy.

Interested in spending your Saturdays with Henry Street? Stop by any (or all) of the programs! Youth Dance class runs from 10-11 a.m. in the gym, followed by Adult Fitness from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Growth and Goals Academy is held from 1-2:30 p.m. in the first floor classroom.

For more information (or if you’re interested in teaching a class on Saturdays), contact Talia DeRogatis at 212.766.9200, or email tderogatis@henrystreet.org.

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