Monday, February 18, 2019

Killing A Program By Painting

One sure way to damage the growth of any program in the Chicago Park District is to keep making the program inaccessible to everyone.  The boxing gym at La Follette Park continues to be closed because it has to be painted and the floor needs to be fixed.  From what I've seen, the work in the gym is being done very slowly, just like the last time the room needed painting. 

The Golden Gloves Tournament registration is going on, but as usual, I had no teens who were interested in training for it, let alone signing up to compete.  The City-Wide Boxing Tournament, which is also coming up soon, is not a go this year, either.  Henry was my best bet for having someone from the 12-years-old and under boxing class in that tournament.  I can only hope that he signed up at another park district gym so Henry can have an opportunity to compete in that. 

I'm never in a good mood when I show up at La Follette these days.  The loss of my car on top of weather conditions (it snowed again recently) has made my commute very difficult.  I have nothing to do when I arrive at work, and since I'm not one for gossip and giggling, hanging around the front desk is not something I do.  It's a little too early to recruit for the spring session which begins in April.  There's no information on if the work in the gym will be finished in a reasonable amount of time which seems to be a constant problem regarding maintenance issues in the park district. 

I always feel that I'm in a constant mode of re-building and re-starting the boxing program despite the fact that it's been running at La Follette Park for nearly five years.  I do know that the boxing program won't keep surviving setbacks like this on top of all the other issues that keep burying the program under the radar.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Another Boxing Gym Shutdown

As soon as I walked into the field house yesterday, I was informed by Coach James that I had to remove all of the signs and posters in the boxing gym.  "The painters are coming in tomorrow," he said.  Steve, the supervisor, passed through the hallway as I found this out.  "I've been in supervisor training all day, and this is the first time I'm hearing about this," Steve said. 

The gym floor has to be re-done, too.  The painters, regardless if they are on the park district's payroll or are outside contractors, have a habit of dragging the work out.  "That's going to take at least two months!  What am I coming down here for when I won't have anything to do?" I snapped.  "Hillari, I know you have to come from far away to get here.  But at least you're getting paid," Steve said.  And so what?  Twiddling my thumbs for several hours doesn't cut ice with me.  Unlike too many park district employees across the city, I'm not constantly searching for ways to sit on my backside and do as little as possible.

I made an announcement in the first class that the participants might as well consider the winter session to be done.  I suggested to Crystal, Armani, and Leslie's mom that she try to sign them up at Simons Park which is the next closest field house that has a boxing program.  Julio had said some time ago that Henry and David sometimes go to Simons, so they have somewhere to go.  I called Leonna, the one adult in the class, and suggested that she try to get a refund since the shutdown of the class is the park district's fault, not hers.  I didn't bother to contact the two teens in the program since they apparently decided not to go to class a long time ago.

This is the umpteenth time in six months that the gym has been shut down due to maintenance and construction issues.  Constant shutdowns and delays in opening the sessions on time DO NOT contribute to getting sign ups nor raising attendance.  Neither do the other ongoing issues such as lack of interest in the sport and numerous shooting and assaults in the park, for example, contribute to having a successful boxing program.  I'm up against too much to make the program work, and I am out of ideas.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Recess Vs. Exercise

A couple of new kids in the class, Cristal and Leslie (their brother, Armani, was not in attendance), weren't doing the floor exercises they should have been during the end of the class yesterday.  The girls didn't make much of an attempt to figure out what to do nor to ask Sahia or myself, so I was vexed.  I barely held back being irritated when I asked them what do they do in their physical education class at school.  "We just play," Cristal said. 

That's not a gym class, it's recess.  Over the past several months, I've had to deal with youths, particularly those in grade school, who are not being taught basic exercises nor other sports for that matter during the school day.  Some don't have physical education classes at school at all.  One of the main reason many of the youths don't stay in boxing is that it requires a lot of exercise in order to keep up.  The fact that physical education in grade school and some high schools as well does not appear to be a priority anymore makes it difficult for me to run an effective boxing program.

I wonder why it appears that most parents and guardians don't demand that physical education classes not be watered down or eliminated for their kids.  Some of those same parents complain to me their kids are playing too many video games and watching too much TV.  Yet it seldom occurs to them that limiting the youths' time with video games and TV, in addition to making them move around more, would go a long way in improving the youths' physical health.  Doing housework is a form of exercise, but from what I hear and observe, youths don't do much of that at home these days.

Cristal, Leslie, Armani, David, and Henry are the only ones showing up to the youth class right now.  Of those five, the most serious about doing well in boxing is Henry.  The teens are long gone, and the one adult who takes the class hasn't been in since right before Chicago experienced a couple of dangerously cold days last week.  I wasn't in for a few days last week myself.  I took a fall on the street right before the weather changed. 

Plus, my car is gone.  It had become too expensive to keep up on the salary I receive.  The last straw was a hit-and-run accident I experienced on my way to work.  I sold the car for parts.  Sahia commented yesterday that I looked tired.  "Maybe that's because it now takes me three trains and a bus to get here," I dryly replied.  A co-worker asked if I was using Uber to get to work.  Well, if I had money for that, I would probably also have money to buy another car. 

"Are you going to move closer to here?" was the co-worker's next question.  I don't have money to just pick and move, either, or else I would have been living somewhere less expensive by now.  But the west side is not an option.  "I grew up over here, and that was enough.  When I left years ago, I didn't look back," I told the co-worker.  Unlike too many in the 'hood, I recognized it was a good idea to expand my thought processes beyond the 12-to-14 block area I used to reside in not far from LaFollette Park.  I'm not going to regress.  My attitude with kids who come to the gym and don't want to work, or who don't come to the gym at all is colder than the temperatures outside were last week.  My patience with parents and guardians who expect miracles but don't want to work with me nor the program to help their youths be successful has evaporated.  Major changes need to be made, but the culture of the neighborhood is not going to lend itself to making changes.