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Free after-school CrossFit program links leadership and lifting

Kilgore kids are trading in the crayons for weights in a free after-school program, all started by a teacher eager to make a difference.

KILGORE — Some Kilgore kiddos are trading in the crayons for weights this summer, all at no cost to parents.

The Ignition Station is a free after-school program, linking lifting and leadership.

"I'm able to work on character with them and do something that I love, which is working out, and use that to inspire them to tap into their potential," said Hannah Beets, the creator of the group.

Beets is a third grade teacher in Kilgore. She started the program in November 2017 as a way to combine her two passions: CrossFit and teaching. Her goal was to give parents an option after school that didn't cost anything.

"We have about 70% economically disadvantaged in our school system, and knowing that these friends don't always have the ability to do extracurricular activities, I wanted to give them the opportunity to do fitness, and use that to build character and community, and give them a place to have belonging," Beets said.

Her biggest reward is watching her kids grow in ways they never thought possible.

"This has given me some new goals that I never knew that I could do. A strong, strong pull-up," said third grader, Hannah Estrada. "When I grow up, I want to be strong and healthy."

Beets is trying to make the Ignition Station a non-profit. For now, she is accepting donations in the form of time, healthy snacks and fans.

The group is also looking for volunteers to help coach.

"Too often, kids go under the radar, and we don't realize how much potential is in them. So, we aimed the Ignition Station to light up those dreams, work hard and pursue them," she said.

The class meets Monday - Friday from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. All ages are welcome to join in on the fun.