Students work together with SBPD

first_imgEach year, about 400 men and 100 women participate in the Notre Dame club boxing teams. During their off-seasons, volunteers from both teams have joined forces with the South Bend Police Department (SBPD) to teach the sport to local children in a biweekly after school program. Senior Rose Raderstorf currently serves as the program’s president, organizing Notre Dame involvement and working to improve the program further. The students’ work is part of a larger SBPD initiative to get involved with the community youth, organizing camps that give kids opportunities to learn new sports and participate in structured after-school activities, Raderstorf said. Notre Dame students began to volunteer with the SBPD boxing club three years ago, and the program is now known as “Box Like a Champion Today.” “The program developed when the first volunteers saw a need [at the gym] to have better role models and more coaching than what was being provided at the time,” Raderstorf said. “The first volunteers were from the men’s team, and those guys decided to turn it into a program for both club teams to get involved with.” The gym, attached to the Grace Community Baptist Church on Harrison Avenue in South Bend, is open Monday and Wednesday. Raderstorf said the program serves both grade school and high school youth, offering cardio workouts and fundamental boxing training. “The gym itself is split into two segments, with the younger kids first and the older group next,” Raderstorf said. “There’s a ring set up in there, and we have mitts and punching bags to practice with too.” Most of the younger kids are just looking for a fun workout, but some of the older participants are trained boxers looking for access to equipment, Raderstorf said. “With the grade school kids, we run laps and do a workout, and afterwards we usually do some form of boxing training, but we try to switch it up to keep them interested,” Raderstorf said. “The older group has 7th and 8th grade boys and some young adults who fight in real competitions in South Bend or Chicago, so this is an actual gym for them to train in. They get a much more intense workout.” The police officers that run the gym know the sport and an outside coach comes in to work with the youth too, Raderstorf said. Senior Ragan Todd, one of the women’s boxing team captains for this year, said she enjoys volunteering in the program and continuing with the sport even after Baraka Bouts ends in November. “It seems like [boxing] is something that there’s an interest in around here, with little kids who just think it’s kind of cool and then older guys there who have won Golden Gloves or other titles,” Todd said. “We have [Mixed Martial Arts] fighters who are focusing on the boxing aspect of their fighting as well as younger kids who look like they don’t do any other form of exercise beyond this.” Both Raderstorf and Todd said one of the program’s major goals is to keep kids busy and involved in the community. “We’re looking to give them an opportunity outside of school for a structured program to keep them safe and give them good options to pass the time,” Raderstorf said. “Another goal is to develop good relationships with the South Bend police and their peers, and it’s definitely a good way to keep kids out of trouble,” Todd said. Raderstorf said many of the children are from lower-income families so this is a unique opportunity for them to try a sport like boxing, which requires a lot of equipment and instruction. “For a lot of them, it’s hard to find something to do after school, and the older kids will acknowledge that there are plenty of other things they could be getting in trouble with if they didn’t have this to do,” Raderstorf said. “The one-on-one mentoring and coaching is really important to them too. The volunteers and police officers are collaborating on plans to add a tutoring aspect to the program, where participants will be encouraged to bring homework to the gym to do after the boxing workout. Raderstorf said this is a major goal for the upcoming semester now that the volunteer base is more regular. “Some people think it’s strange to teach fighting to kids like this, but it’s taught in a very respectful manner so they know how to use the skills properly,” Raderstorf said. “It’s a sport that demands great respect for your opponent, and that translates into other areas of life as well.”last_img read more

Saudis strive to prevent virus outbreak in curtailed haj

first_imgPilgrims were quarantined Tuesday in the Muslim holy city of Mecca ahead of the dramatically downsized haj as Saudi authorities strive to prevent a coronavirus outbreak during the five-day pilgrimage.Up to 10,000 people already residing in the kingdom will participate in the annual ritual starting Wednesday, according to haj officials, a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million international pilgrims that attended last year.Those selected to take part in this year’s haj were subject to temperature checks and placed in quarantine as they began trickling into Mecca at the weekend. State media showed health workers sanitizing their luggage, and some pilgrims reported being given electronic wristbands to allow authorities to monitor their whereabouts.Workers, clutching brooms and disinfectant, were seen cleaning the area around the Kaaba, the structure at the center of the Grand Mosque draped in gold-embroidered cloth towards which Muslims around the world pray.Haj authorities have cordoned the Kaaba this year, saying pilgrims will not be allowed to touch it, to limit the chances of infection.They also reported setting up multiple health facilities, mobile clinics and ambulances to cater to the pilgrims, who will be required to wear masks and observe social distancing. ‘Indescribable feeling’ The foreign press are barred from this year’s haj, usually a huge global media event, as the government tightens access to Mecca. Saudi authorities initially said only around 1,000 pilgrims residing in the kingdom would be permitted for the haj but local media reports say as many as 10,000 will be allowed to take part.The haj ministry has fielded a deluge of anguished queries on Twitter from rejected applicants.But Haj Minister Mohammad Benten insisted the process was transparent, telling the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television that “health determinants” formed the basis of selection.”I did not expect, among millions of Muslims, to be blessed with approval,” Emirati pilgrim Abdullah Al-Kathiri said in a video released by the Saudi media ministry.”It is an indescribable feeling… especially since it is my first pilgrimage.”The ministry said non-Saudi residents of the kingdom from around 160 countries competed in the online selection process.But it did not explain how many applied, and some disappointed pilgrims have complained that the government-run lottery was not clearly outlined and say no reason was given for their rejection.Despite the pandemic, many pilgrims consider it is safer to participate in this year’s ritual without the usual colossal crowds cramming into tiny religious sites, which make it a logistical nightmare and a health hazard.Even in a regular year, the haj leaves pilgrims exposed to a host of viral illnesses.The government scaled back the pilgrimage as it could be a major source of contagion, but the move will deepen the kingdom’s economic slump, analysts say. It comes as Saudi Arabia faces a sharp downturn in oil prices due to a collapse in global demand driven by national lockdowns, which triggered austerity measures including the tripling of a value added tax and cuts to civil servants’ allowances.The haj and the year-round umrah pilgrimages together rake in some $12 billion (10.3 billion euros) annually. “There are no security-related concerns in this pilgrimage, but it is to protect pilgrims from the danger of the pandemic,” Khalid bin Qarar Al-Harbi, Saudi Arabia’s director of public security, told reporters on Monday.Some 70 percent of the pilgrims are foreigners residing in the kingdom, while the rest will be Saudi citizens. All worshippers were required to be tested for coronavirus before arriving in Mecca and will also have to quarantine after the pilgrimage as the number of cases in the kingdom nears 270,000 — one of the largest outbreaks in the Middle East. They were given elaborate amenity kits that include sterilized pebbles for a stoning ritual, disinfectants, masks, a prayer rug and the ihram, a seamless white garment worn by pilgrims, according to a haj ministry program document. Topics :last_img read more