Atlantic City PAL gets grant for after-school boxing program

State and police leaders are hoping a new program will help knockout dangers for some Atlantic City kids.
In the wake of recent gun violence involving the city’s youth, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and State Athletic Control Board Commissioner Larry Hazzard Sr. announced a $65,000 grant for an after-school boxing program.
A group of 20 boys and girls ages 11 to 15 will get boxing and fitness training, as well as life skills development designed to foster self-esteem and success.
“I would like to thank the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for this funding opportunity,” Police Chief Henry White Jr. said. “With the additional money, we will be able to expand our youth boxing program here at PAL. Our theme at ACPD is, the more we invest in our youth, the more we are investing in our future.”
The educational, social and recreational program will be held Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. for 12 months, beginning in September.
The program will enroll participants who reside and attend school in disadvantaged and high-crime neighborhoods, where they are exposed to negative influences that can potentially lead to delinquency and gang involvement, explained Grewal, who visited the PAL during Tuesday’s walk through the neighborhoods.
“The boxing program is a good developmental tool both physically and psychologically for our youth, as they will be trained in goal setting, respect and self-restraint, as well as self-defense,” said Sgt. Monica Coursey, PAL director. “They will be instructed on managing one’s emotions and maintaining composure, all while thinking their way through precarious or challenging situations.”
The program will offer these youths positive activities and mentorship during after-school hours when they would be most in danger of engaging in risky behaviors.  
“The $65,000 we are awarding to this boxing and life skills program is an investment in 20 young people and the promise each of them holds if their best qualities are nurtured,” Grewal said.  “It’s an investment in building a safer Atlantic City, not by making more arrests, but by encouraging young residents to choose healthy recreation over the street, and career exploration over gang exploitation.  By training and mentoring these youths, the ACPAL will deliver a message to other youths in the community that there are positive alternatives.”
The kids will also participate in a series of monthly life skills and career development workshops that will focus on topics including anger management, conflict resolution, improved communication and decision-making, healthy lifestyles, and college and career exploration. 
“We couldn’t be more delighted and appreciative that Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has delivered a knockout award to Atlantic City,” Hazzard said.  “We know that investing in growth and development of young people secures a brighter future for them and the community at large.  I can personally attest to this concept as a tried and true formula from my own humble beginnings to my personal successes, today.  We are honored and very proud to be a part of this winning team.  This is government and the community working together at its best.”
The ACPAL is partnering with law enforcement, local schools, Family Court, amateur boxing clubs, and social service agencies in seeking referrals of young participants.  The Stockton (University) Center for Community Engagement is helping with referrals and also providing volunteers to assist with the program.  The Community Organization Making Better Alternatives Today for Tomorrow (COMBATT Inc.), which currently runs a similar program in Essex County, is assisting with networking with the professional boxing community, as well as staff training and development of life skills workshops.
Qualified participants will be able to compete in amateur boxing competitions each month, with the possibility of advancing to national and international competitions.  Other program participants can take part in such monthly competitions by attending and motivating their teammates, and all participants will assist in hosting two amateur boxing shows during the year.
“Atlantic City has seen a large transformation over the past year as Governor Murphy and I have put in place a strategy to help the city develop and grow, but the recent gun violence in the city is disheartening and a sobering reality that we can combat with constructive programming,” acting Gov. Sheila Oliver said.  “I commend the Attorney General, Commissioner Hazzard and ACPAL for taking a positive step toward providing Atlantic City’s youth with the resources and opportunities they need to develop a stronger sense of self and community.”
For more information, call the Atlantic City Police Athletic League at 609-347-5871.

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