By Cynthia Mendoza
A new boxing club in Colton is offering youth not just a place to learn a sport and keep their minds occupied but also a way to get to know the men and women of law enforcement in a positive and rapport building environment.
Based in Hemet, the Cops 4 Kids & Communities program is now in Colton through the efforts of Carlos Palomino and others who felt the need for a boxing program. Palomino worked with the Colton Police Department’s PAL boxing program from 1999 to 2010.
“Kids were calling me and asking, ‘Coach, where can we go?’” Palomino said about why he felt the need to keep a boxing program going strong.
Palomonio came across the Cops 4 Kids & Communities program and after a few years of effort and seeking support, the program finally found a home at 1589 Bordwell, Unit C. in Colton.
“We feel at home here. The kids are happy,” he said.
Currently there are about 15 kids in the program ages, six to 17. The police officers that train kids are from various agencies in the Inland Empire, including Riverside Police, San Bernardino Police, San Bernardino County Sheriff and Rialto Police.
And yes, the officers donate their time.
“No one gets paid for this,” Palomoino said.
Through the program, the kids learn more self-confidence, respect for officers and self-esteem, apart from how to stay physically fit.
Palmonio shared the story of one particular young man in the past who began the program at a certain weight and sort of quiet and shy. Within a short time he had lost 25 pounds and was beaming with confidence and excitement.
And through positive interaction kids and officers also establish positive relationships and rapport that is conducive to life-long respect and understanding.
When kids get to know officers in a relaxed social environment out of uniform, it reminds them that they too are real people, just like them. When they eventually see officers in uniform they’ve already established the goodwill and positive rapport.
Palmomino also emphasized some of the benefits of boxing itself.
“In boxing, you’re the team,” he said about the individual effort and reward that comes with the sport. “There is no competition against others and parents are very supportive of each other.
And for ‘Coach’, as he’s known, the program and his reasons for bringing it to Colton also have strong personal meaning; a desire to help kids avoid the pain and hardship that comes from making poor choices for lack of guidance and productive ways to spend time.
His own nephew Ray Acala Jr. was shot and killed in 1997 at the age of 17 in Fontana. The person who shot him was never caught.
“If I can help even one kid….” Palomonio says, and leaves it at that through slightly misty eyes at the memory of his nephew who would have turned 35 on August 11, 2014.
Overall, through the work of the police officer, supportive parents and young 20-something coaches, many of whom have been working with Palomino since their teens, the program has been a success.
“I feel like we’ve accomplished something here,” Palomino said. “We’re making a difference.”
Just ask 11-year-old Tommy Moreno, an avid young boxer.
“It’s a good workout and it gets you in shape,” he said. “We spar and have lots of fun.”
For the time being, the program costs $25 per month, but with more community support and more signups, the cost may go down.
The program is in Colton but is open to youth from any city.
And while Palomino was instrumental in bringing the program to Colton, he made it very clear that he could not have done it without the support of several businesses and individuals, including: Leno’s Rico Taco; Redlands Ford; Mr. Hae Park, the building owner; Colton Councilwoman Susan Oliva and Colton Mayor Sarah Zamora.
For general information on the Cops 4 Kids & Communities program visit http://www.c4kc.org
For information on the Colton program contact Carlos Palomino at firstname.lastname@example.org