The Cayman Islands government and the CI Boxing Association are taking aim at Bodden Town residents.
A boxing club opened this month at the Bodden Town Civic Centre, and according to Michael Myles, the Ministry of Education program coordinator and liaison officer of at-risk youth, the idea is to curb crime and health problems.
“The goal of the program is to reduce crime among our young people … increase their physical activity and address the obesity problem,” Myles said. “We also want to engage the Bodden Town community in physical activity and mentoring our youth.”
The youth arm of the club is an after-school program from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. It is free for students from primary to high school.
In the near future, adult fitness classes will be offered from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday for $25 a month.
“Bodden Town is now perhaps the second-largest district, and the government is making every effort to address the social challenges of our youngsters in the district being left unsupervised so many hours after school,” Myles said.
The Ministry of Education’s Extended After-School Program has seen more than 1,400 young people becoming involved in afternoon initiatives. There is already a similar program in West Bay and one is being considered for East End.
A study last year showed a third of children entering primary school in the Cayman Islands were obese or overweight, according to screenings of new pupils by the Cayman Islands Public Health Department. Of 530 children – the majority ages 4 to 6 – entering schools in September 2012, a total of 92, or 17.4 percent, were obese and 86, or 16 percent, were overweight.
For Health Minister and Bodden Town MLA Osbourne Bodden, the only way to stop that trend is to engage both adults and youth.
“We decided to join forces with the boxing association in an effort to help our children get fit and help them fight weight gain,” Bodden said. “If we teach our youths, and by extension the adults, how to stay active and fit, they will reap the rewards of good health when they get older. A healthier population also means less of a burden on the healthcare system. It just makes good sense.
“I must take this opportunity to praise the hard work of Michael and coach Norman Wilson, who met with Joel Francis [senior policy adviser for Sport] and me. They were instructed to pursue this, which they have done in a fairly short order. Councilor Alva Suckoo has also had this as a dream for some time, and him becoming my councilor, with his passion for boxing, will ensure that we have continued success as we seek to expand the programme.”
For more information, call 345-926-0749 or email [email protected]