We had the good fortune of connecting with Tarik Kitson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tarik, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
At the moment I was very naive of how difficult it would be grow a business. I had found something I was passionate about and felt that I could do a better job than other organizations that was currently doing it. I was confident that my network of people could help grow it out into something bigger than I could imagine.
What should our readers know about your business?
I founded nonprofit Active Plus in 2013. Active Plus provides health and physical education to vulnerable communities in NYC. We deliver these services through fitness, active play, nutrition, cooking, mindfulness and restorative practices. In NYC physical education and health classes have been cut from many public schools in black neighborhoods. Active Plus provides these services to families for free and other community based organizations for discounted pricing.
I am most proud of the progress our students make over the years while participating with Active Plus programming. I am excited for our upcoming growth and developing partnerships.
I got to this moment with consistency, believing in the mission, being creative with limited resources, delegating and being open to change. This has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but also the most rewarding. I overcame the challenges because of the positive impact we are having on the community and the families.
I have learned many lessons but one of the biggest lessons I have learned along the way is to never give up if you believe and are passionate about it.
I want the world to know that there are many people in need within our black communities, and it does not take much to have great impact on a family life for generations. Volunteering for a local nonprofit and giving your expertise can sometimes be better than donating money. Nonprofits such as Active Plus are ran by a majority of volunteers and for us to stay afloat we rely heavily on their expertise. The impact we have made on our community is because of volunteerism. Be the change and give your time to a cause you are passionate about.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have been very fortunate to live in the best city in the world. I don’t even need to say the name of that city, because you already know what it is!
For breakfast we will go and get a Dominican breakfast from Bus Stop Diner in Harlem. For lunch we will take a Citi Bike down to Lions Head Tavern for some of the best wings in Upper Manhattan. For dinner we will take a cab uptown to Washington Heights for drinks, food and music at Republica.
This city has everything you would want. What I like most about NYC is the diversity in culture, food and music. There is so much I have not explored in the city its hard to say what I like the most.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Dr. Rosemarie Chierici played a big role in my professional development and journey. I met Dr. Chierici my sophomore year in undergraduate studies as SUNY Geneseo in 2005. Not only did she give me direction, she took me under her wing and guided me throughout my collegiate career. Her grooming at my young age helped me graduate with honors in anthropology and led me to working with health legislative director in the office of Congressman John Lewis in Washington, DC. The internship in DC led me to working at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center while obtaining my Master in Public Health from Columbia University. Dr. Chierici has had an amazing impact on my life and she deserves so much credit for all the great things I have done and will be doing in the future.