Julie Humphreys, Public Safety Communication Manager, 509.625.5868
Friday, April 23, 2021 at 4:19 p.m.
Community partners help offer up a one-two punch with police and area youth
The Police Activities League (PAL) boxing program is underway bringing young people facing disadvantage together for some good old fashioned boxing workouts. PAL boxing kicked off in 2019, but couldn’t meet in 2020 because of COVID restrictions. Now, young boxers are once again punching it up and getting ready to spar alongside police officers at the downtown Spokane Boxing Gym.
“It opens students’ eyes to the person that is the police officer, not just the badge” says Officer Graig Butler, community outreach officer. “We try to show kids what they are made of in a safe environment.”
PAL Boxing was formed to fill the void in after school activities available to youth outside of traditional sports and school clubs. Many of the young people come to PAL through Youth For Christ (YFC), a local organization working to reach young people from impoverished neighborhoods to empower them by meeting their spiritual and physical needs. YFC Director Jeff Ross says the partnership with SPD breaks down walls and barriers between kids and cops.
“It’s a great partnership. All kids are fighters so it teaches them discipline and closes the gap between a preconceived mindset kids have about police.”
Anywhere from 2 to 12 youth currently attend the PAL program at Spokane Boxing on a Tuesday afternoon, but they can also show up to box during open gym time. That’s because gym owner and former professional boxer Rick Welliver opens not only his gym, but his heart to these young people.
“It’s important, we are failing our youth - leaving them behind. These kids are on the downside of advantage. Their parents can’t afford traditional sports programs.” He adds “Boxing is a sport that changes lives, it not only builds character, it reveals it. You learn pretty quickly if you can do this, you can do anything in the world.”
Welliver contends if you want to have a vibrant community, an inner city boxing program is critical. Downtown Spokane Partnership President Mark Richard agrees.
“This is a fantastic collaboration between law enforcement and downtown nonprofit organizations providing local youth with an opportunity to learn new skills and to develop meaningful relationships with each other and with caring adults.”
The Police Activities League is funded by the Spokane Police foundation.