Henrico Boxing Club helps teenagers master boxing skills and mental health

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HENRICO, Virginia (WWBT) – A boxing club on the east end of Henrico is helping teenagers improve their mental health and boxing skills through a unique program.

After the last 18 months of the pandemic, providing outlet for children is especially important, and for some children at the East End Boxing Club in Henrico, venting steam on a couple of punching bags has brought great relief.

But for coaches and mentors like Coach Elwood Patterson Jr. or “Coach Pat”, as the kids call him, the focus goes beyond physical training.

“If you [the kids] Come on in here, one of the first questions I ask the kids is why do you want to box? ”Said Patterson, who has been training for 20 years. “You will be amazed when the kids say, ‘You know I want to box because I have anger problems.'”

“A child who is eight or nine years old to realize they are peaking,” Patterson said.

When Patterson and his son opened the gym, they wanted children to have a safe way to learn a skill to do something constructive and avoid anger. He tells NBC12 that some of the children have experienced a lot of trauma and that it is important to help them deal with it.

“Definitely a lot of trauma that happens in your community, in the household [ and there ‘s] Substance abuse, ”said Patterson, who also referred to the poverty and gun violence issue that has affected part of her life.

Every year the club holds an event called “Gloves over Guns”, which aims to curb gun violence among young people. As a homicide, this remains one of the top three causes of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 19, according to CDC data.

“It hurts,” said Patterson. “We all get really emotional when we think about it because we have resources out here.”

One of those resources is Therapy Undefeated, a behavioral conditioning program that Ticeses Teasely, mother of four and a psychologist, started after noticing changes in the behavior of some children in the gym.

“You might see a kid hit harder one day or less communicative than before,” said Teasley.

She knew from her own experience what some of these signs meant. Her son Nakhai went through something similar when she separated from his father.

“He would act, he would fight … he would strike at the smallest thing,” Teasley said as she described how hard he took the breakup as a young teenager. “He literally told me I was so angry I could feel my blood boil. “

“It was a heavy feeling, a lot of weight on my shoulders,” recalls Nakhai. “But when I come here [to the East End Boxing Club] I can relieve this weight on a bag. “

Today, Nakhai said, he feels like a new person and sees boxing and learning to open up to someone he trusts as life-changing.

“It’s not just about a physical outlet, it’s also a mental outlet,” said Nakhai. “As long as you can relieve yourself of both ways, you should be able to survive anything.”

Therapy Undefeated is a seven-week program that combines boxing and peer support groups to help teenagers identify causes of depression and anger.

Then they learn ways to control it.

“The children come in and they discuss any difficulties or challenges they face in their community or family and we discuss them,” Teasley said.

Boxing will soon no longer be the only option. Teasley is in the process of expanding the program to include other children’s interests. She is just beginning to get things going on 420 W. Broad Street. She gave NBC 12 a glimpse into the space while she works on developing it with the help of donations.

“In this room we are going to have music, art, employment development services, parenting and youth support groups,” Teasley said as she took NBC12 on a tour.

She added that there would be a sneaker school where kids could learn to customize their own sneakers. The kids will also develop business skills by learning how to operate a juice bar and food stand on the premises. The creation of résumés will also be a service for young people and the homeless. Teasleys Therapy Undefeated falls under her nonprofit, Nurturing Minds, which provides family services and other resources for local families.

A soft opening from Therapy Undefeated, who will maintain their partnership with the East End Boxing Club, is Friday, November 5th at 7pm at 420 W. Broad St. It will be a fundraiser. Food is served.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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