Laurie Garo

Lifting Inspirations is a vision of mine that combines my life passions, qualifications and experiences into a set of youth-empowering programs and services. I am a lifelong fitness athlete. I began a form of bodybuilding as a kid while competing in swimming. I have lifted weights as a means to stay strong and fit, to release stress and maintain physical and mental health. While working in Nairobi, Kenya, I trained with an athlete on the Kenyan weight lifting team, learning more about muscle group isolations and proper form. I was even more inspired after watching him compete in the All-Africa games. Here in Charlotte, I began competing in bodybuilding 10 years ago, and became certified in Ultimate Body Building through the International Association of Fitness Sciences. I am also certified in Neurosequential Model in Sport (NM-Sport; the study of trauma therapeutics and healing principles through sports).

My work experiences include research and youth outreach for gang and gun violence intervention through Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). I co-led a Mecklenburg County sponsored children’s program and designed and directed a Youth Leadership Academy with PSN funding. Both programs primarily served Black children and youth. My trauma-focused work and training is an outgrowth of my childhood experience with trauma. Within my doctoral studies in Urban Education, I specialized in trauma from exposure to violence, racism and other life adversities among Black male secondary students, and culture-affirming, healing-oriented trauma interventions. I thus combine my passion and experiences in weight lifting, bodybuilding competition, trauma and youth violence intervention to create this company with programs to serve all male youth ages 7-19, with special focus on Black males from conditions vulnerable to trauma.

My education and training have prepared me to design programs that are culture-affirming, and, where needed, include trauma-responsive interventions particularly for children and youth exposed to violence, and racial and social injustice as well as other life adversity. Apart from these, I love to dance and to enjoy music, movies, cultural events and outdoor activities with family and friends.

Some examples of my youth programs and projects include:

  • Youth Gang Forums: Youth were guided to design, organize and lead these forums for other area children and youth. Through the process they began to see themselves as leaders and felt purpose in having younger kids look up to them for advice.
  • Climbing Crowders Mountain: Youth followed the strenuous route to the peak and then discussed the experience within the metaphor of achieving goals as climbing mountains in our lives. Getting from grade 9 to grade 10 is a mountain, for example, that requires perseverance, dedication, helping one another, etc., to get to the top, or to achieve the goal.
  • Youth assignments: YLA youth were given weekly assignments that involved giving back to their family and community. Some examples included reading to a younger sibling or child in the neighborhood, mowing the lawn for a senior neighbor, help an elder carry in their groceries or take out their trash, helping out at church events, etc.
  • GIS workshops: Various student groups, grades 6 through 12, carried out research projects using GIS. Some topics they investigated include: Ozone pollution, tree sustainability, disproportionate exposure of environmental hazards by race and socioeconomic class, drought patterns, crime analysis of mass murder events, and the study of eagle flight patterns.
  • Job shadowing: In conjunction with a neighborhood president and her youth council, children were placed in various city and county agencies to shadow a professional for a day. They underwent mock interviews prior to their placement to determine an office or position of interest.
  • Community Service at an Assisted Living Facility: Designed by Youth Leadership Academy staff, youth leaders spent the day at an assisted living facility helping residents to pot plants.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Day Parade: Youth council children participated in the parade by demonstrating Capoeira during breaks along the parade route.

Photo by: Keith Layne Photography, 2023


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We're thrilled that you're interested in Lifting Inspirations' unique approach to nurturing resilience and empowering youth. Whether you're curious about our innovative programs, the transformative impact of weightlifting and wellness, or how mentorship plays a pivotal role in our mission, we're here to answer your questions. Reach out through the form below, and let's embark on a journey of positive change together. Your inquiry matters, and we're excited to hear from you!