The SPARKLE Curriculum


Week 1

Learning objective: Healthy choices make your body and mind strong.

We encourage young gymnasts to build strong minds and strong bodies. Gymnasts need mental toughness, allowing us to stay focused on our intentions instead of negative thoughts and fears. Gymnasts need strong bodies to accomplish new skills. 

Healthy choices are important in order to keep your mind and body strong. 

Healthy choices include:

Nutrition: Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good, and have energy. These nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals. It is important to have a healthy relationship with food and our bodies. Feeling good on the inside helps you to be strong on the outside.

What are examples of
fruit (apples, bananas, grapes);
vegetables (broccoli, cucumber);
grains (bread, pasta, rice);
protein (seafood, eggs, lean meats);
dairy (milk, butter, cheese).

What are your favorite foods?

If you only ate pizza and chocolate, how do you think your body would feel? (tummy ache, low energy)

If you ate a balanced healthy diet, how do you think your body would feel? (more energy, stronger)

How does what you eat affect your mood? How does being hungry affect your mood?

Activity: Call out your favorite food on the food plate and run around the gym and stand by the color of your favorite food. Ie. if you say apple, go stand by something red.

Sleep: Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy and stave off diseases. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has recommended that children aged 6–12 years should regularly sleep 9–12 hours per 24 hours and teenagers aged 13–18 years should sleep 8–10 hours per 24 hours.

Activity: Take turns calling out what helps sleep.

Exercise: Energy, flexibility, endurance, power, speed, agility, balance and stability are all a part of a strong body. We work on developing a strong body at the gym through exercising our muscles.

The CDC recommends that children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each day, including daily aerobic – and activities that strengthen bones (like running or jumping) – 3 days each week, and that build muscles (like climbing or doing push-ups) – 3 days each week.

Activity : Pick some exercises and stretches to do before class.

What is your favorite way to exercise? (Do gymnastics!)


Week 2

Learning objective: It takes discipline and practice to reach a goal.

Practice like you compete. Commit to practice and never give up trying. Don’t compare yourself to other gymnasts. Everyone is on a different journey. When you look at athletes that you admire, remember that they too put in many hours of practice and had the discipline to work hard to get to their level. Greatness isn’t born, it is made with hard work and determination.

  1. set a goal
  2. make a plan of how to achieve that goal 
  3.  practice and work hard until you
  4.  succeed in reaching your goal!

Come to practice with the mindset that you are there to get better and willing to work hard to improve. Practice deliberately with intention. Practice till you SPARKLE!

Activity: Name someone (an athlete, a leader, a teacher) you respect and admire and let’s brainstorm about what they did to get where they are. 

What is a goal of yours and what is your plan to achieve that goal?


Week 3

Learning objective: Maintaining a positive and grateful attitude will increase your happiness.

Make a conscious habit to express and communicate thankfulness and appreciation. Surround yourself with positive people. This will increase your joy. Appreciate your teammates, coaches and friends and let them know you are thankful for their support.

STAY POSITIVE: Life is challenging but you have a choice in how you look at it. You can choose to be negative and complain or you can choose to be positive and optimistic.  How you look at things is a choice that YOU make. The key is that if you choose to stay positive, you will feel happier with yourself and others will want to be with you. Train your mind to see the good in every situation and the good in yourself and others.

Activity: Brainstorm examples of positive self talk (what we think in our mind about ourselves) and positive thinking. What makes you sparkle? 

What makes you beautiful on the inside?

 Tell us something positive about someone else in the group ?

PRACTICE GRATITUDE: Gratitude means being thankful. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. Practicing gratitude makes you happier.

Activity: What are some examples of showing gratitude? (thanking someone, writing a thank you note) 

What are some things you are thankful for? 

Create a “Gratitude Jar” and have the athletes write what they are thankful for and put in the jar.


Week 4

Learning Objective: Strive to be a cooperative and supportive team member and friend, as well as a good listener to fellow teammates, coaches, judges and parents.

Respect is the process of honoring someone by exhibiting care, concern, or consideration for their needs or feelings.Treat people the way you want to be treated. Respect is the glue that holds relationships together. Respect means that you accept somebody for who they are, even when they’re different from you or you don’t agree with them.  It is disrespectful to gossip or say negative things about others. 

You show respect by being: 

Cooperative * Supportive * A good listener * Kind * Polite

Respect is owed  to your coaches, parents, judges and your teammates.  Teams are built upon individuals who respect, trust and care for each other. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Activity: Play Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” song and dance to it and talk about what respect means to the gymnasts and what are some examples of showing respect? (being cooperative, supportive, a good listener, kind, polite)


Week 5

Learning Objective:  Be kind to yourself and others.

Smile and be compassionate. Stop and help someone. Pay it forward and do random acts of kindness. Be kinder than necessary both to yourself and others. Encourage your teammates to do their best. One kind word can change someone’s entire day for the better. Choosing to be kind will have a positive impact on you and on the world.

Can you think about a kind act that you witnessed someone else do? How did it make you feel? What is an example of a kind act that you did? How did it make you feel?


Week 6

Learning Objective: It takes courage and leadership to face challenges.

Just like you need courage to try new skills, you need courage to stand up for yourself and others. Leadership is about having vision, responsibility and commitment to motivate and inspire others towards success. A leader must be fearless and true to her values.

What could you do if you see a  teammate being picked on or bullied? (stand up for the victim, tell your coach, talk to the bully)

To learn more about what to do about bullying, watch the USAG webinar on “Managing bullying between athletes”

What is peer pressure (peers influence you to do something) and what is a good strategy to address it?

What are some examples of being brave? What makes a good leader?


Week 7

Learning Objective: We will talk about untangling your emotions, finding balance, and promoting mindfulness.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE:Emotional intelligence is the ability to be smart about emotions. It includes one’s  ability to express and manage feelings appropriately while respecting the feelings of others. Be present and aware of where and what we are doing rather than reactive or overwhelmed. Respond not react. Emotions can be uncomfortable (anger, sadness, frustration). The more you can learn to manage and express your emotions, the more at peace you will be.

Be aware of what you are feeling and try to figure out why you are feeling that way.

What are some different feelings? (sad, happy, jealous, angry)

Be aware of what others might be feeling and why they are feeling that way.

If someone says something that upsets you, instead of REACTING(maybe getting angry and yelling at her or saying something hurtful back), try to RESPOND (tell her how her comment makes you feel and why and try to understand why she said it).

FINDING BALANCE: When you are living with balance in your life, you are living with peace and harmony every day. Balance comes in physical forms, emotional forms, and a spiritual form. For me, having a balanced life means creating time for the things I have to do (like homework), as well as the things I like to do (like gymnastics!)

What are some things that you have to do?

What are some things that you like to do?

Just like balancing on the balance beam, you need to find balance between work and fun.

MINDFULNESS: Mindfulness means paying full attention to something. It means slowing down to really notice what you’re doing. Being mindful is the opposite of rushing or multitasking. When you’re mindful, you’re taking your time. You’re focusing in a relaxed, easy way. Taking deep breaths can relax you and decrease stress and help you stay present. 

Take a deep breath for 4 counts, hold in for 4 counts and let it out for 4 counts. Notice how it makes your body feel.

To learn more about mindfulness, watch the USAG webinar “Mindfulness Training for Performance Excellence”


Week 8

Learning objective: Reflect back on the lessons learned. Review the 7 words. Hand out certificates and ask each gymnast to tell us why she/he sparkles.

Have the participants fill out the Rosenberg Self Esteem scale.

Take photos and encourage the group to SPARKLE BRIGHT and  leave a sparkle trail wherever they go!

Join Us! We Don’t Sweat, We Sparkle!


Founded in 2020, NOLA SPARKLE, is a mentorship program for young gymnasts in New Orleans, LA.

Learn More At Our Website

Do you have questions about NOLA SPARKLE, our curriculum, or how you can sign up?

NOLA Gymnastics
1725 Dufossat St
New Orleans, LA 70115

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