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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Local nonprofit ‘I4031’ targets to raise health & wellness outcomes for local disadvantaged communities

 Alexandra Francois, a local fitness enthusiast and public health ambassador, has launched a nonprofit that has potential of becoming highly influential in the Baltimore area.

   I4031 Health & Wellness Assembly, Inc. is a Baltimore-based nonprofit organization designed with the objective of making health and wellness more obtainable primarily for low-income communities. The company’s priority goal will be facilitated through providing low-cost comprehensive services that instill and foster a healthy lifestyle. 

   After being drawn to the culture of Baltimore and what the city has to offer, Francois relocated here from North Carolina in 2017 to follow her pursuits. With an extensive background in exercise physiology and sports performance, Francois was seemingly destined to impact the health and wellness industry.

   Moving to Baltimore City was an eye-opening experience in regards to the prominent health disparities and other health inequities that negatively affect the Black community, said the HBCU graduate. Francois earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from Winston-Salem State University and a master’s degree in exercise science from Liberty University.

   “After my undergrad, my passion for health and wellness grew even more and my passion more so for helping the African American community understand and getting the knowledge behind health and wellness was priority to me,” Francois said.

   “I knew I wanted to have my own gym, but it wasn’t until moving to Baltimore City that I knew that I would be doing it for more of a purpose in the sense of growing and building the community.”

   “I4031” is somewhat of an acronym for Isaiah 40:31, a biblical verse that says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” The frequently quoted scripture is the nonprofit’s namesake and serves as a framework for I4031’s mission.

   “The message, the mission, not only is it to serve these African American and minority communities, but to also allow people to understand what it means to soar, what it means to grow in strength,” said Francois, a native of Long Island, New York, who grew up in North Carolina.

   “We can be everything and more that we are called to be when we choose to just trust the process, when we choose to go through what’s needed and then be developed through it. Through I4031, we’ll be providing resources to develop not just our workers but every single person that walks through our door.”

   The nonprofit, officially founded in January 2021, will offer a variety of treatments, classes and services, including nutrition, mental well-being, group exercise, personal training, chronic and disease prevention. 

   I4031 aims to “improve and help maintain optimal well-being” and will also offer youth programs, older adult classes and an adult basketball league. 

“My heart bursts with joy,” Francois said. “I’m so excited because I love helping people, especially in health and wellness, being able to provide resources for people who never thought they would ever be able to receive it.”

Before starting her own ventures, Francois worked with Under Armour before working with the YMCA as a director of fitness operations. Francois also runs Faithfully Fit Training, LLC, a health and wellness service specializing in one-on-one personal training, online fitness coaching and nutritional guidance. 

   Similar to Faithfully Fit Training, 14031 is in its beginning stages and Francois sees the nonprofit reaching national acclaim one day and plans to open a brick-and-mortar facility in the near future.

   “I’m truly excited about the vision that God gave me and I’m curious to see what He’s going to do with it because I do believe it’s going to be much bigger than even the vision He put in my head for it,” she said.

   “Our vision as an organization is to be able to impact every African-American community across the nation and ultimately just be international across the world… I’m not going to lie, having a vision like that can be very scary and I am a little nervous. However, I’m very, very excited. I’m ready to impact people’s lives, I’m ready to be able to grow a team to serve in every capacity.”

   Francois’ deep-rooted passion for health, fitness and wellness is what drives her ambition for wanting to see and experience a better Baltimore. After several years of contemplation, thought and planning, she is elated to have established a platform that will provide vital resources for communities to prosper.

   “The vision of having this health and wellness hub because I think it’s needed in Baltimore City,” Francois said.

   “I know there’s been a lot of attempts, but this one is just different.”I4031 will hold a 5K Power Walk & Run marathon fundraising event on March 26 at Druid Hill Park.

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