The Norashen Village Weightlifting Club in the Berd Region has become a sports hub for its community children, some of whom attend classes four times a week.

“My goal here is to train these kids so that they can achieve results in competitions,” said 24-year-old coach Garik Avagyan, a former professional weightlifter himself until he was injured a few years ago. As a coach, he hopes to guide kids in the right direction toward good health, self-confidence, and self-discipline.

Over the past year and a half FAR has supported the club as part of BCPP’s extracurricular group initiative by paying the instructor’s salary and covering all expenses so that students may attend for free. Currently, 17 kids (ages 8-15) attend.

“I have kids who even cycle to the club from another village since there is no other type of transport. The kids have changed their attitude towards sports—they love and enjoy weightlifting. They see a purpose in life, in something they wouldn’t have thought about before. I hope we’ll have our own champion in the foreseeable future,” Garik said.

Aghasi, a 12-year-old from Norashen Village, will take part in the Armenian Weightlifting Competition in Yerevan next May. “I really like training with Garik and I have become stronger and more active thanks to the trainings and to him. Next year I will be participating in a championship and we are working hard to be at our best then,” Aghasi said.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP) is a multidimensional FAR project that addresses the roots of poverty in the Berd Region of Tavush Province, and is sponsored by the Edward and Helen Mardigian Foundation.