Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures

Volunteering with Family Gym

Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures (HKHF) provided Northeastern University students with the opportunity to gain leadership skills, engage with the surrounding Boston community, and learn about childhood obesity as a public health issue.

Students with an interest in civic engagement, community health, social justice and community service are encouraged to volunteer with the Family Gym program (previously called HKHF’s Open Gym program) throughout the academic year (Fall and Spring semesters).

Open GymFamily Gym is a free play program for families with children ages 3-8 that aims to encourage young children and their families to be active together and to promote open, non-fee based recreational use of Boston’s BCYF community centers.

Family Gym takes place on Saturday mornings from 10:00am-11:30am* at different BCYF community centers in Boston during the Fall and Spring semesters. Family Gym follows the Northeastern University Academic Calendar.

Students will be assigned to one specific location for the duration of a semester. Student volunteers are present at their respective sites from approximately 9:30am-12:00pm* to setup the space, engage with families, and clean up the equipment after families have left.

*Times for volunteers and families may vary slightly by location based on other BCYF programming in gymnasium spaces we share.

The majority of our volunteers are recruited through our partnerships with Northeastern University’s Service-Learning and Simmons University Community Engagement. Students take a core role in leading activities for families, conducting community outreach, and/ or developing wellness resources for families attending Family Gym s part of a site based placement.

Students from other colleges and universities are welcome to volunteer with us as we continue to expand beyond our original core locations in Roxbury (BCYF’s Recreation Center at Madison Park), the South End (BCYF Blackstone), and Dorchester (BCYF Holland).

HKHF’s Saturday Open Gym program was successful in part due to its strong partnerships with Northeastern University and UMass Boston. Family Gym has continued to build upon existing relationships with community based and institutional partners as it has expanded its reach.

  • Northeastern University undergraduate and graduate students from multiple disciplines have staffed all six of current and one former Family Gym locations.
  • Our location in Dorchester continues to host several UMass Boston students each year. This location was opened through a collaboration with the GoKids fitness Program in 2014 (UMass Boston Engage)
  • Boston University pre-health students helped to staff our newest location in Allston during its first cycle in 2020.
  • Family Gym has collaborated with students from several Simmons University undergraduate social work and graduate level physical therapy courses to staff and create resources for families at all of our current locations.

If you are interested in learning more about the experiences of past volunteers, check out Northeastern University’s Service Learning Expo page. We also have a student testimonial page you can visit for more information about the volunteer role from the perspective of former volunteers and staff.

If you are a student interested in becoming involved with Family Gym as a volunteer or as part of a capstone project, please  contact our Program Coordinator at for more information.

We welcome students from any institution to join us for a semester of service or research.