OIBY started as a grassroots initiative in 2009 as part of Allina's Backyard Initiative project. The Backyard Initiative was a community-driven project in collaboration with both Allina Health systems and the Cultural Wellness Center in South Minneapolis. Its goal was to better the lives of people in the community by focusing on groups of people who had distinct disparities. OIBY was one of many groups that were formed and we exist specifically to serve the needs of LGBTQ people.
We decided to use some of our funds to start free wellness exercise classes that promote body positivity and provide a safe space from the sometimes “oppressive” environment of gyms. This idea took off and we have sustained annual “check-in” rates at over 16,000 individuals for the past several years. We work together with the Minneapolis Park Board in South Minneapolis to provide free spaces and exposure. We have at least five classes per week in parks and recreation centers year-round. Additionally, we host various community dances, alternative medicine workshops, MNsure information sessions, self-defense classes, bike maintenance, and community dinners. We are followed by over 2,500 people on Facebook and receive enormously positive feedback. We have always contributed some of our success to the fact that all of our activities are free and open to all.
Although our instructors are paid, our passionate leadership members and organizers are all volunteers who have contributed thousands of hours over the last decade.
2018 was the last year Allina funded the Backyard initiative project, which included OIBY. Knowing that we were facing the end of our grant from Allina we became a 501c3 non-profit so that we could fundraise on our own to sustain our programs.
Our goal is to decrease physical and mental health disparities and reduce isolation by connecting LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people to supportive queer resources and each other.
OIBY’s mission is to improve the lives of people in the community as a whole with a focus on reducing health/mental health disparities through health and wellness, community building, and cultural activities amongst LGBTQ people.
We understand that disconnection and health disparities are created by oppression and systems of dominance. OIBYs work is to connect community by bridging the gap between the LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ communities by providing free classes, activities, events, and cultural celebrations that improve mental, physical, spiritual, and cultural health for all. Our classes are centered in an environment of cultural diverse body positivity to create safe spaces to move and heal.