Somali Fitness Program

WellShare International promotes health and builds community one soccer game at a time. 

WellShare launches first of its kind, intergenerational, holistic fitness program for the Somali community in Mankato, Minnesota.

In partnership with Ignite Fitness Center, WellShare International, a community-based public health organization headquartered in Minneapolis, is providing a safe and fun space for Somali men to develop community, mentorship, and healthy lifestyle choices.

The Somali Mankato Fitness Program was a response to the social isolation faced by many Somali immigrant youth residing in rural Minnesota. Mohamed Ibrahim, Program Manager for WellShare’s Mankato office, saw this need and turned it into an opportunity to develop a program that he knew his community would both enjoy – and benefit from. Mohamed shares, “it’s a space where Somali men have conversations, learn about health together, and have fun together. All needs are being met.”

Officially launched in July of 2023, the Somali Mankato Fitness Program has grown significantly, mostly through word of mouth as interest spreads. Every Saturday, young men gather to share their love of soccer, learn about a range of health topics, and refreshments. This is a space that overcomes the many barriers young Somali men in greater Minnesota face to be physically active – and socially engaged.

The program also offers young men the opportunity to connect with mature Somali men, many of whom are medical residents and practicing doctors at the Mayo clinic, who are successfully navigating the educational and professional systems.  Mohamed, a doctor himself in his home country of Somalia, was able to leverage his relationships with local doctors who want to get active, socialize and give back to their community.

Every session begins with a health education topic, presented by one of the physician participants, such as Dr. Abdifitah, an active volunteer and mentor. Participants then enjoy a soccer match, followed by refreshments. Using soccer as a vehicle for education and transformation is a great example of how community health works! Young men are receptive to the role models in this program who inspire them to complete their education, make healthy choices, and become leaders in their communities.

For more information, please contact Program Manager, Mohamed Ibrahim, at

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