ATLANTIC CITY – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and State Athletic Control Board (SACB) Commissioner Larry Hazzard Sr. today announced that they are awarding a $65,000 grant to the Atlantic City Police Athletic League (ACPAL) for an after-school boxing program to provide 20 young community residents with boxing and fitness training, as well as life skills development designed to foster self-esteem and success.
In the wake of recent gun violence involving youths in Atlantic City, Attorney General Grewal and Commissioner Hazzard are working with the ACPAL and other community leaders to offer young people a safe space and positive activities away from the street and gang activity.
The Atlantic City Police Athletic League was awarded the grant to provide an educational, social, and recreational program on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for 20 boys and girls from Atlantic City between the ages of 11 and 15. The “Attorney General’s Youth Community Outreach Program for New Jersey Amateur Boxing” will begin in September and will be funded for 12 months with the $65,000 grant.
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. 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. In addition to learning boxing skills and potentially competing in amateur boxing matches, the youths will receive fitness training and instruction in health, nutrition and wellness. They also will 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.
“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,” said Attorney General Grewal. “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.”
“We couldn’t be more delighted and appreciative that Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has delivered a knockout award to Atlantic City,” said SACB Commissioner Larry Hazzard Sr. “When the SACB first envisioned this type of youth boxing program in 2002, it was our dream to touch the lives of young boxers around the state. We relied on the boxing community to get us off the ground on a small scale. But, it takes a village to raise a child and I cannot thank General Grewal enough for his dedication and commitment to the betterment of our youth; our most precious commodity. 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!”
“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,” said Acting Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “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.”
“I would like to thank the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for this funding opportunity,” said Chief Henry White Jr. of the Atlantic City Police Department. “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 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. They will be instructed on managing one’s emotions and maintaining composure, all while thinking their way through precarious or challenging situations,” said Sergeant Monica Coursey, Director of the Atlantic City Police Athletic League. “I would like to thank the Attorney General’s Office for this opportunity and for blessing our Atlantic City youth.”
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.
The program is being funded with a one-year $65,000 grant from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, provided through the State Athletic Control Board. The grant will fund six part-time staff members for the program, as well as supplies and services.
For further information, please contact the Atlantic City Police Athletic League at (609) 347-5871.
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