SheForce: empowering female vets through fitness
BY KIMBERLY ELSHAM For Sun-Times Media
Sharp shooter: Donna Allen-Sebok, left, poses with the SheForce team at a Sept. 23 paintball tournament fundraiser for the veterans and their families. The event was held at CPX Sports in Joliet. | SUPPLIED PHOTO
AllenForce, spearheaded by certified therapeutic recreational specialist Donna Allen-Sebok, is a nonprofit created to help veterans transition to civilian life through fitness training and recreation. So far, Sebok’s “Healthy Minds Healthy Bodies” fitness program for injured and disabled veterans operates in nearly 20 fitness centers nationwide.
SheForce, the newest initiative for the nonprofit, will cater to social and physical needs of female veterans by having female instructors in gyms, keeping the workout group women-only and by assisting with childcare.
The Department of Veteran Affairs projects that the number of female veterans in the United States will grow from the current 1.8 million to 2 million by 2020.
“We are filling a niche,” said Allen-Sebok, a single working mother.
She said AllenForce’s networking events for vets and their families help bridge a domestic gap by seeing the vets interact with their comrades in a relaxed manner and “seeing them in their element, which may not happen at home.”
SheForce’s inaugural event will be a retreat in November in the western suburbs at an undisclosed location for privacy. The event will have a health and wellness focus for women and kid-related activities. Female veterans interested in the event can visit allenforce.org for updates and a forthcoming sign-up.