Breaking Down Barriers through Boxing Pilot Project


Breaking Down Barriers through Boxing Pilot Project

Michaela and Michelle were fortunate enough to hop in the ring with recipients of the ParticipACTION Teen Challenge Grant last week.

On May 13th, 2015 Michelle DeCourcey, NB PLAYS! Coordinator, and myself, HIGH FIVE® and ParticipACTION Coordinator, visited the Fredericton Boxing Club where at-risk youth from Devon Middle School participated in a new program. This new eight week pilot program selects at-risk youth to participate in boxing lessons while gaining so much more.

Jason Sullivan, a wellness coordinator with the Fredericton YMCA and a longtime member of the Fredericton Boxing Club, recognized the need for a program targeting at-risk youth. Sullivan designed this program to accommodate a handful of Devon Middle School students from grades 6, 7 and 8.

When Michelle and I arrived at the Fredericton Boxing Club we were greeted by Sullivan. He gave us a run-down of the program and showed us around the Club which included hanging punching bags, wrist wraps, gloves and a boxing ring. Shortly after we arrived, the door opened and we heard chatter then feet running up the staircase. In came students and to our surprise teachers ready to get changed and get started. The teachers have also been attending the workout which has created a bond between the teachers and the students. It was inspiring to see the teachers being positive role models for the students. At the end of the day, they are all working toward to same goal.

Once changed and back out on the floor, the workout began. Squats, sit-ups, push-ups, quick feet all happened before putting on the gloves. We broke into groups at each hanging bag and began with Sullivan calling out different combinations. Michelle and I were very impressed with how well the students, and teachers, were at this sport. Everyone there seemed eager to learn. In an interview for the Telegraph Journal, Sullivan stated that, “The goal isn’t just to teach kids to box. It’s to show them they can learn something totally different if they’re willing to work at it.” Throughout the workout, Sullivan reinforced the benefits of positive behavior at school, the importance of getting a full night’s sleep and how healthy eating can give them the energy they need to get through the day.

The workout ended with everyone laying on the floor and Sullivan guiding the mindfulness session. Mindfulness is defined in the Marriam-Webster Dictionary as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” After the intense workout, it was clear that the group truly enjoyed this part of the workout and were relaxed and ready to take on the afternoon.

Written by Michaela Allaby

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