Community Events

Church blesses community initiative that aims to get children exercising

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Members of Heart of God Family Worship Center hold hands and bow their heads as they bless a group of people part of a new youth initiative called Strong at Heart on Sunday.

By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury

POTTSTOWN >> Area organizations, schools and churches are coming together to embark on a youth outreach initiative that will teach children life lessons including the importance of exercise.

“Attempt something so big that unless God intervenes it’s bound to fail,” said Chaplain Mark Malizzi, of Thunder Outreach, to members of Heart of God Family Worship Center.

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Individuals part of a new youth initiative to get children physically active stand in front of members at Heart of God Family Worship Center on Sunday. The church prayed over and blessed the group of people.

Malizzi came to the church as a guest Sunday to inform the congregation about a new program called Strong at Heart, which is meant to build up the community and especially impact the lives of Pottstown area youth. He said individuals representing different organizations are working together to be a blessing to children.

“It’s all about our heart for the community and our heart for the children,” Malizzi said.

The congregation prayed over the Strong at Heart team Sunday which includes representatives from the Pottstown Police Athletic League (PAL), the Pottstown YMCA, The Hill School and more. The church’s Bishop Michael Anthony blessed each of the team members that attended service Sunday.

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Bishop Michael Anthony, far right, of Heart of God Family Worship Center leads a prayer over individuals part of a community initiative called Strong at Heart on Sunday. Michilea Patterson — Digital First Media

The spark for Strong at Heart came from an idea Anthony had about a month ago. Anthony said he’s known Malizzi for seven years and they have a similar vision when it comes to the community. They both want to get past the differences everyone sees and join together for the common goal of bettering the area, he said. Anthony is a teacher’s assistant at Lincoln Elementary and was inspired to do something that would get children active this summer.

“It’s a proven fact that kids that are active do better academically,” he said.

To get children excited about exercise, the church is fundraising with a goal of donating 200 Huffy bicycles to the youth this summer. Anthony said the church had a bike giveaway last year and wanted to expand on that event this year for Strong at Heart.

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Members of Heart of God Family Worship Center sing as the church pray over and bless a group of individuals part of a new community initiative called Strong at Heart.

Heart of God Family Worship Center, as part of the Strong at Heart mission, will help promote community events that will benefit youth. In addition to exercising, Anthony said children will learn some important character building skills such as respect, responsibility and commitment.

Anthony said the initiative will partner with The Hill School for a fitness day event. Strong at Heart will also be a part of the PAL bike rodeo this summer. PAL Executive Director Holly Kennedy said the rodeo will teach children all about bike safety. She said PAL was excited to be part of the youth initiative because they are all about the community as well.

Another youth event that Strong at Heart will promote is a bike and hike event in April. Malizzi said West-Mont Christian Academy is putting on the event as a fundraiser for their missions’ trip. He said Strong at Heart is about helping other organizations achieve their community goals. He said the initiative is creating relationships throughout the area.

“This is more like a Pottstown internet of community components starting to work together,” Malizzi said. He said those part of the initiative will come up with creative ways to impact the community. Strong at Heart will build a communication network so families will know about the events happening in the area, he said.

A website for the initiative is still being developed but will soon be ready at SAHPottstown.com. For more information about Strong at Heart, contact the Heart of God Family Worship Center at 610-327-9410.

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