Our History

I Challenge Myself was founded by Ana Reyes, inspired by her personal journey of training for and completing a 286-mile bike tour as a novice cyclist. Recognizing the importance of empowering youth during adolescence, Ana conducted focus groups and research, which informed the design of I Challenge Myself.

With a 3-year grant from the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, I Challenge Myself was launched on February 19, 2005, at the South Bronx High School Campus. The program initially involved 12 students in grades 9 to 12, organizing a century ride to Long Beach and a youth-led service learning project focused on HIV/AIDS prevention.

Expanding to the George Washington Educational Campus in Washington Heights in February 2007, I Challenge Myself became an elective PE class, providing both physical education credit and the program’s benefits. A federal grant from the U.S. the Department of Education later enabled I Challenge Myself to reach three additional schools from September 2009 to June 2012. In 2011 a summer college bike tour to broaden students’ college choices was developed and implemented by the organization’s Athletic Director at that time.

ICM’s approach focuses on perseverance, resilience, and redefining success and failure. In February 2013,a report from the United States Department of Education validated ICM’s asset-based methodology, emphasizing the importance of teaching these critical 21st-century skills.

The Aspen Institute also supports I Challenge Myself’s integration of skill-building into PE programs, promoting physical literacy and a lifelong commitment to physical activity. The 4toFIT program was developed in 2015 to address the lack of structure and skill-building in PE classes, drawing from ICM’s success in the cycling program. The curriculum is continually improved with input from PE teachers, providing challenges that push students physically and mentally, fostering a supportive learning environment.

External evaluators conducted a survey of I Challenge Myself alumni, revealing encouraging long-term fitness and social-emotional outcomes. Alumni reported sustained participation in program activities, engagement in higher education, increased physical activity levels, improved knowledge of nutrition and exercise, and ongoing involvement in biking activities.

I Challenge Myself has a lasting impact on the lives of youth, equipping them with essential skills, fostering healthy lifestyles, and instilling a sense of empowerment.