Equip 2 Thrive: Dad-owned business runs sports programs that let kids be kids
Posted June 19, 2016
When I set up for the May event Go Ask Mom held at North Hills, I wasn't prepared for the tour de force that is Coach G.
For four hours straight, Coach G - also known as Bryan Garrido - led countless toddlers and preschoolers through an obstacle course. They were throwing things and stacking things and running around things. With what seemed to be a ceaseless energy, Garrido guided them, step by step at their own pace, and, along the way, taught parents a little something about the lessons behind each of the obstacles.
It was amazing. (And I'm excited that Garrido will be back for our 10 a.m. to noon, July 5, event at North Hills' Midtown Park!).
"It looks like mass chaos," Garrido joked about his classes, "but they're engaged."
Garrido owns Equip 2 Thrive, which seeks to help kids reach their full potential - no matter the ability - through youth fitness programs and a stop motion animation camp. Garrido and his wife have four kids, ages 5 to 16.
Equip 2 Thrive is new to the Triangle, but it's existed in various forms for many years. Garrido grew up being involved in recreation programs in New Jersey and eventually started volunteering with small day cares and Vacation Bible School programs. After studying recreation and sports science in college, his career took him to the YMCA and 4H. He often volunteered at local preschools, libraries and other community centers to lead programs.
"I learned how to easily adapt a program to make it cost effective - low cost or no cost - for families," he said. At inner city programs where kids couldn't afford to buy equipment, for instance, he taught kids to look for household objects - a water bottle or a can of food, for instance - to use as weights.
In other cases, pediatricians would refer kids to him who seemed clumsy or self-conscious about their physical abilities.
"You make those clumsy kids feel comfortable," Garrido said. "You don't focus on what they can't do, you focus on what they can do."
The family moved from Pennsylvania to Raleigh in October. Now, Garrido is building visibility for the business. He is working through some local parks programs, a local Montessori school and also on his own. He hopes to connect with more schools, community groups, parents and more to get the word out about his programs. He's worked with toddlers to 19-year-old high schoolers.
"I’m focusing on encouraging the kids, building their character, working on developing their skills and giving them creative hands-on learning opportunities," Garrido said.
The stop motion camps and workshops offer another way for kids to stretch their minds and imaginations. He'd led similar programs in Harrisburg, including for military families with a deployed parent. The kids would make a video and send it to their parent overseas.
He's all about finding creative ways to get kids playing - whether its developing a game of tag with a Frisbee or modifying the usual hopscotch game. His hope is - in this day of organized sports - that kids can learn that sports isn't just about winning or hard-core skills development, it's about fun.
"You don't have to be the biggest, strongest, quickest," Garrido said. "You can just be a kid."
Garrido will share fun activities with kids here on Go Ask Mom over the next few weeks. You can find out more about his programs on the Equip 2 Thrive website.
Go Ask Mom features local parents every Monday. In June, in honor of Father's Day, we feature local dads.