Palmerston North Lounge “Changes lives” through support and exercise

Boxing may be the core of the Snap Back Boxing Sports Club, but the focus is the community and helping the people.

In addition to running regular boxing and fitness classes, Palmerston North Gym offers classes for troubled youth, special education students, new moms and men’s health.

It also works to raise awareness about mental health and suicide, and Fight Nights raise money for the cause.

The gym held an open day last weekend to show the community what they’ve been up to, including a newly stocked equipment room where they gave classes.

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Coach Courtney Sawa encourages a student in a special education class at Snap Back Boxing.

Warwick Smith/Staff

Coach Courtney Sawa encourages a student in a special education class at Snap Back Boxing.

Gym manager Filippo Sawa said that boxing is only a small part of their job and they take care of every aspect of life.

He said they worked to build people’s well-being and mental health because they saw so many people dealing with the issues.

“Wellbeing is very important. We have realized that there is a need for society to reach different levels to help our society.

“We start with our youth and build the community. There are different services we provide to build our community.”

He said the Youth at Risk program helped build their self-esteem and saw “children change their lives”.

“We follow basic rules, values, safe aspects of being here and respect.

Jerry Sawa (right) says once young people learn what they are capable of, they love it.

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Jerry Sawa (right) says once young people learn what they are capable of, they love it.

“We talk about doing better in life, about goals you achieve from there to time out, making a decision, choosing the right thing to do.”

One of the girls I started working with had problems with violence.

“Her mother said it was the first time she had seen her daughter smile in six months.”

There was also a self-defense program for young women and a free class for people with Parkinson’s disease.

They conducted a “shoulder to shoulder” course for men to talk to each other and get help if they needed to, because Sawa said men usually differentiate themselves.

Courtney Sawa carrying bags for students.

Warwick Smith/Staff

Courtney Sawa carrying bags for students.

Sawa Courtney’s son-in-law was a special education instructor.

I also worked at HealthCare NZ and a few months ago I decided to run fitness classes for children with special educational needs, who came to attend classes during the day.

“A lot of them said there are no opportunities for them after school or at school to go to it because everything is mainstream. We created space for them to be themselves.”

The classrooms were sensual with no loud noises and they were making fun of the kids.

She said that when some of the kids came they were nervous but they grew in confidence and fitness.

“They look forward to it, they come and they dance in one direction and they really enjoy it.”

She said they fulfill every need and create opportunities for people.

Instructor Jerry Sawa, right, helps a student during a training session.

Warwick Smith/Staff

Instructor Jerry Sawa, right, helps a student during a training session.

Kourtney’s husband, Jerry, was the lead guide for their youth at-risk program, who were referred to the gym, where they reminded them it was a safe place.

Jerry said that once the guys realized what coaching could do they learned to love it.

“We see a lot of confidence growing in them and their physique. Since they have grown up on a struggling path, we try to help and guide them to get back on the good path.”

He said they learned discipline and how to focus on something positive, which led to a big change.

“Respect is the big thing we try to get into. Respect yourself, respect the others around you, because boxing requires respect.”

Joe Salisbury, Manawatu’s director of tactical prevention, said the police have a strong partnership with the team in the gym.

“We have previously collaborated on many initiatives involving Rangatahi and have always been impressed with the way the Snapback team interact with young people and serve as role models in our community.”

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