Empowering Youth: Our Partnership with Kings of Weightlifting

Kings of Weightlifting

Everyone has a story about how weightlifting and strength training impacted their life. Our favorite story is about Kings of Weightlifting, a non-profit after-school mentorship program that helps underprivileged youth find inner strength through educational assistance, nutrition education, and weightlifting.

Bells of Steel has partnered with Kings of Weightlifting for the past few years to contribute to the cause. Now we want to share this experience with you, so you can help make a difference.

Derrick Johnson started Kings of Weightlifting with a clear goal: to open doors and change the lives of kids growing up in similar environments as he did. As a kid, Derrick joined a free after-school program designed to keep kids off the streets and moving toward a bright future. This experience ultimately led to Derrick's success at an elite level.

He's the youngest international coach in the history of USA Weightlifting, an All-time American record holder, and a 12-time National Champion— all because he found the right path at an early age. Founding and operating Kings of Weightlifting is how Derrick is paying this experience forward.

The Kings of Weightlifting is a free after-school program in South Central LA. The program runs for four hours every weekday afternoon, taking a multi-faceted approach to mentorship. The research supports the mission— studies show that after-school programming reduces risk and helps create resilience for youth in urban communities.

Every afternoon, the kids get help completing their homework. The organization communicates openly with the kids' teachers to understand their challenges and see what help is needed. Schoolwork is a priority— the kids need to get their work done before hitting the weights.

During the program, the kids learn about fitness, making positive nutrition choices, goal-setting, and navigating life. And, of course, they learn Olympic weightlifting from elite coaches! The program takes place at the Century YAL, a facility operated by the Sheriff's Youth Foundation, to support relationship-building between law enforcement and at-risk youth. The goal is to set these kids up for success and strengthen the community one kid at a time.

Kaevon (Founder and President of B.o.S.) and Derrick originally connected in late 2019 and again during the pandemic when gyms (and the world) shut down. Like Derrick, Kaevon learned the power of weightlifting and having a positive focus while growing up in a challenging situation.

Bells of Steel experienced tremendous growth during the pandemic, as everyone stocked up on gear to train at home. This shift led to Kaevon reconnecting with Derrick to see how B.o.S. could channel this growth into something positive. Kings of Weightlifting faces many challenges other non-profits face: lack of funding and limited resources to increase their reach and build awareness.

Our partnership started with a donation of equipment and financial support. Our goal is to use our platform to build more awareness and aid in ongoing fundraising through the sale of our Kings of Weightlifting Flags.

Over the past five years, Kings of Weightlifting has helped kids find a supportive community, focus, purpose, and confidence. They've given away college scholarships and introduced kids to weightlifting competitions and positive social outings. This foundation has profoundly impacted the lives of hundreds of children in a way that will resonate for years to come. You can support the cause by purchasing a Kings Of Weightlifting Flag for your gym or donating directly here. If your fitness-based non-profit organization needs help supporting your community, contact us to share your story.