Legendary nine-time Grand Slam champion Monica Seles, along with former New York Knicks shooting guard John Starks, recently paid a visit to the “I Challenge Myself” project in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. The former pros, both members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, presented the project with a cheque for $25,000 as part of the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation’s support.
“I Challenge Myself” (ICM) is a non-profit project using fitness-based challenges to help high school students from New York’s low-income communities develop physical, academic and social skills. The project intends to curb obesity and related illnesses that are prevalent in low-income communities. Laureus granted the project the initial funding to begin its Cycling Smarts program in 2004.
“This is a terrific project and a great concept and I’m very pleased that Laureus is able to support it,” Seles said. “It takes care of kids at an age when it is really important to get them off the streets and prevent them from getting involved in drugs and crime. This is where sport can be such a winner.”
“Cycling Smarts is a brilliant idea because the students taking part in it can measure their improved fitness and changes in their diet and feel they are making progress week by week,” Starks said. “I want to congratulate all the participants, the coaches and the organizers, who have made ICM the great success it is.”
While in New York, Seles and Starks took part in one day of the program’s self-confidence boosting training session. The goal is to drive students who had difficulty completing a five-minute sprint on the spin bike to complete their first one-day, 100-mile bike ride.
In addition to her work with the Laureus World Sports Academy, Seles’ humanitarian efforts include work with the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition (IIMSAM). As a Goodwill Ambassador and Spokesperson for its Global Sports for Peace and Development Program Initiative, Seles works to counter malnutrition, and work towards the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.