PAL Pete Suazo Boxing Center

Since it’s opening in March 2010, the “Suazo Center” has evolved into a place for youth to build discipline of the mind and body.  From 3-4:00 p.m., during the school year, participants complete their homework and receive individualized or small group tutoring.  Once their coursework for the day is complete, students are invited to take part in boxing other physical fitness, arts, service, and other interest-based activities.  Each week, participants bring progress reports from their respective schools to help the center track their successes in the classroom.

Boxing 2012Outside of boxing, our youth participate in various activities that provide an outlet for artistic expression.  For example, the past Spring Program featured the youth participating in a hip-hop dance class; they performed their new routine at two community events.  The youth also took part in an urban art class where they were taught how to utilize their artistic talents in a positive and productive way. In addition to designing t-shirts, stamps and model cars, the youth developed and completed a mural which now towers over the boxing ring. One youth moved out of the area before the project was completed. She stopped by the center months later and said the product of the project in which she had taken part blew her away.

The Summer Program offers a new angle to being a part of a positive program. Youth ages 11 to 17 participate in activities three hours a day 4 days a week for 6 weeks. The youth are involved in team sports programs, dance classes, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, service projects, the City of South Salt Lake parade and Freedom Festival, designing and making jewelry, yoga, and of course, boxing. During the Summer Program, youth who exemplify the center’s core principles of Respect, Integrity, Participation and a Positive Attitude earn opportunities to participate in bi-weekly field trips. For many of these youth, this past summer included their first experience at the Boondocks, Raging Waters, and Lagoon. 

The Suazo Center continues to provide activities for youth and give them new opportunities that they would not have otherwise. One goal of the program is to increase academic performance through dedicated staff, volunteers, and mentors. Youth now have the resources needed to catch up on homework or assignments they previously didn’t understand. The Suazo Center’s programming during after school hours promotes learning and celebrates achievement.  For many youth, it’s “the place to be.”

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