NJGAKAD combined the best of social services and the sweet science, with essential life skills serving as the glue connecting both of them. These services are free of charge to the children, which are hand-selected by NJGAKAD’s founder Jackie Atkins, and often referred by social service facilities across the Jersey Shore.
NJGAKAD recipients come into the gym at least three days a week for traditional boxing training, followed by tutors for schoolwork. Meanwhile, staff coordinates with social service workers to ensure a continuity of care for the child, and their families.
Often children are homeless or in foster care when they arrive to NJGAKAD, and in the process of major undertakings — be they a workout, or finding appropriate homes — NJGAKAD takes care to also teach pertinent life skills to provide ways out of the endless cycle of poor health and/or poverty: these include social etiquette lessons, job interviewing skills, hygiene and/or presentation.
Though most of the work — exercise or homework — takes place at NJGAKAD’s headquarters at Gleason’s Gym Jersey Shore, the group also takes field trips out to expose children to wider varieties of living: this can be visits to parks, businesses for job mentoring.
Age groups are divided in half — affectionately called “warriors” and “wee warriors,” for children under 12. To help develop leadership skills, longtime members are often called to lead the wee warriors through training, and a separate team helps foster those with desire and ability to box competitively.
Social service organizations or individuals can apply for NJGAKAD inclusion by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.