PITTSBURG — Gabrielle Boyd can often be sighted running and doing flips around Pittsburg, but it’s more to the it than just acrobatic exercise.
In the future Gabby said she would like to be an athlete on TV shows such as American Ninja Warrior and Beastmaster, but her ultimate goal is to create a homeless shelter and raise awareness of bullying and assault.
As someone who suffered from violence in her past, Gabby found something which made her happy.
Her friend had told her working out may help with depression, so she gave parkour and freerunning a shot.
“I took to climbing buildings and I got hooked on parkour,” she said.
The difference between parkour and freerunning is parkour is “getting to point A to point B as efficiently as possible,” whereas freerunning is walking on ledges and flipping off of things, Gabby said.
Around that time, Gabby had an interest in being on “American Ninja Warrior” where athletes take on a “notorious” obstacle course. Gabby has been seen doing flips off trash bins and running through town, often in a ninja mask.
The mask was originally created to keep dust out of her face, but it also served as a way to protect her identity when she was faced with people who were adverse to the idea of her flipping around or her objective.
The nickname “Nina Girl” was coined by a few people when they caught her doing parkour behind Five O Five.
Her parkour around Pittsburg State University and through Pittsburg had also caught the attention of various media and PSU students around 2016. At that time she was only 16 and her mission was not only to practice her athletic abilities but to share about bullying.
The anti-bullying ninja continues to do the same today.
“I like to fight for life of people who have been assaulted,” she said. “Having support and people there for you really helps.”
Her campaign has expanded beyond bullying.
About three weeks ago, Gabby started a petition to show officials and government that there is a need for a homeless shelter in Pittsburg . C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Family Emergency Shelter closed in 2014 because of a cut in Community Services Block Grant funding, leaving Pittsburg with no place for homeless other than the day shelter at Wesley House and during “extreme conditions” 10 people who are homeless can stay at The Door.
“This is the first step in showing the city council this is an issue,” Gabby said.
She needs 10,000 signatures to complete the petition, which she discussed on Aug. 24 during ArtWalk.
Gabby said she would ultimately like to manage the shelter and create programming for the homeless by connecting with resources in the community.
She said homelessness is not political issue but a “human issue.”
“I’ve been talking to people to see what I can do to help,” she said. “To help not only the homeless but people as a whole.”
In the evenings she parkours or free runs. Gabby said she often runs into people who are on the streets, homeless.
Residents may not notice how many people who are without homes because they keep it to themselves or “hide” throughout the day, Gabby said.
When she sees them on the street she hears their stories and their needs.
Gabby said she has witnessed people who are homeless be assaulted.
She said often people are homeless because of mental health issues. Gabby said she was once in their shoes because of depression, but now she’s on the up swing, with her own an apartment on the horizon.
A place for people to go and refresh themselves, a have a place to sleep and eat, along with being provided resources to help overcome their issues can help more than just the person who is homeless.
Gabby said people who are left to stay in places around businesses and benches outdoors may cause risk to both the person who is homeless and people around them.
For example, an individual Gabby met had mental health issues where he believed strangers were his family. She said this could have caused a problem if he were to treat them like family, such as hugging “his child.”
Another example is when people try to help out someone who is homeless a handshake or hug is often shared. This is okay, however, it leaves a risk of disease for either person because the person who is homeless is possibly malnourished rendering them more susceptible to disease.
People can sign the petition for a homeless shelter online at https://bit.ly/2wt3D7N.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. To nominate someone for Patrick's People send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org