February 7, 2023

A free fitness program in New Bern was created for those parents who may not only have a busy summer, but a busy life year-round. 
Dawg Pound Athletics program, directed and founded by Vincent McDuffie, has parents covered. The fitness training program is full of physical and mental health benefits for children to enjoy every Monday and Wednesday all-year from 6 to 8 pm. at Fort Totten Park in New Bern.
Training includes learning and performing all general sports and helping to meet health goal needs for all grade-school youth in the New Bern and surrounding cities area. The first session kicked off June 13, and 40 children have joined since then. 
Physical health is an important goal for the program, but it’s not the main focus, McDuffie said. 
“This is really bigger than sports,” he said. “It’s about really transforming their mindset, and I’m just using sports to get through to them.”
McDuffie said those who join do not have to be involved in sports. If participants have other goals in mind such as losing weight or gaining strength, he encourages children to join the free program. 
“Kids have always been a passion of mine,” he said. “I’ve been trying to find a way to give back to them so that they can exceed and grow. I know sports can be an outlet for people to break barriers and come out of their shell, meet new friends and gain more confidence.”
McDuffie said he created the fitness platform so children could become leaders by transforming their mind and body, so he “just had a vision and ran with it.”
The program director has always been involved in fitness and played sports his whole life, he said. McDuffie also had a similar training program for adults, “Fit Friends on Deck,” created in 2018. The adult training program is currently paused due to his focus on children.
Dawg Pound Athletics participants will also have the opportunity to take local trips such as attending New Bern High School football games and going out to dinner. McDuffie said he wants children to learn life and experience a new environment. 
He said the program functions from donations and community support, but most of the funding comes out of his own pocket. McDuffie wants children to focus on themselves, not the expenses. 
“I just wanted to be that person that provides this service for the kids, and I just want the parents and community to know that I’m here for them,” he said. “If they just give me two weeks with their child, I can assure them a change in their mind.”
For more information about the program, contact McDuffie at 252-876-6552. 
Reporter Symone Graham covers local public safety for the Sun Journal. Have a story tip or idea? Send it her way at sgraham@gannett.com


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