Community

The NovatoSpirit Scholarship

Novato’s most vulnerable children are getting a boost from NovatoSpirit, a 501c3 public charity that, through sports, improves the physical and mental health of impoverished Novato children, ages 7-18.

According to the Novato Unified School District (NUSD), about 2,600 Novato students are living in poverty, and at least 130 of them are homeless. Poverty can magnify health problems, so many of these children struggle with health issues, such as asthma, obesity, diabetes, motor-skill difficulties, speech delays, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

The negative effects some of these distressing health issues can be alleviated by regular exercise, but most after-school fitness and sports programs are beyond the financial reach of impoverished families. To help families overcome this financial barrier, Marian Huntington founded KarmaSpirit, which does business as NovatoSpirit, in 2005. And since then, she and Board Directors Alison Moore, RN, and Suzanne Daggert, CPA, have helped hundreds of kids participate in carefully selected after-school programs offering karate, taekwondo, dance, and soccer.

Prior to the establishment of NovatoSpirit, there was no way for these kids to receive the health benefits of longterm fitness activities, so this nonprofit enables each child to practice a sport for 5 years. This is costly—each NovatoSpirit child requires an average of $5,000 of funding over 5 years. But the health impacts are immense.

Tracey Hessel, MD, Lead Pediatrician of Novato’s Marin Community Clinic, has been a longtime champion of this nonprofit, stating, “I have been grateful to have the opportunity to work with this outstanding program and consider it to be an amazing resource for my patients and a force of positive change for our community.”

NovatoSpirit achieves effective and lasting positive health impacts with children, says Marian, through five key components: mentorship with a skilled and compassionate athletic instructor; a safe learning environment where all children are watched to ensure no bullying or destructive behaviors occur; continuity of positive physical action over a 5-year period; frequent two-way communication between the families and Marian, so she can listen and be responsive to their needs; and full participation of parents and caregivers in transportation, spectatorship and conferences with athletic instructors.

Most importantly, the kids served by NovatoSpirit have praised its multi-year program, and so have their parents. In-depth testimonials from the children are highlighted in Marian’s book Movement and Mentorship, Helping Kids Heal through Sports, which will be published in English and Spanish, and will be available on Amazon.

If you wish to learn more about NovatoSpirit’s mission to help children in need, please visit www.novatospirit.org.
Donations are much appreciated and can be mailed to: NovatoSpirit, 936 Seventh Street, Suite B, Postal Mailbox 236, Novato 94945.
All donations are tax-deductible according to the tax law.

Students Receiving Awards

NovatoSpirit Award Katie

NovatoSpirit Award Natalia