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THE CHALLENGES OUTSIDE THE RING MAY BE THE HARDEST

January 2nd, 2012 at Mon, 2nd, 2012 at 5:01 pm by lesliehamada

The Tuesday evening before Christmas we scheduled a great get together for our boxing kids. We would have a special room at Roundtable and eat lots of salad  and pizza and just enjoy each others company: kids, adults, and coaches. watch the DVDs  made of our club–watch one of our coach’s pro fight and celebrate, as a community run kids after school boxing program. We struggled to start—to get a gym–facility—and equipment. we found a coach he quickly left and we scrambled to find replacements. But ….here we were, 3 1/2 months of practices, kids that came and went, kids that stayed and are beginning to develop skills and friendships. different sizes, backgrounds, schools, and races and religion, we even had 2 kids jumped and robbed walking home from practice.We have had our challenges. But here we are. When the idea first came into my head that Kent East Hill needed more activities for kids to have access to it was around a community meeting table. I had always been active in schools and with kids organizations. I was well aware of the challenges facing a diverse school district, the volunteer work in emergency assistance that I had engaged in over the years had taught me poverty, lack of jobs, government programs shutting down were all coming to a head to even make the need greater for kids that would need support.Working as a tutor(VOLUNTEER) and mentor to kids in schools taught me how families are forced to move a lot when resources are drying up. In one school year I moved with the child I tutored 3 times just so that child could have one consistent thing in their life–me. It created a lot more driving for me as I was working at the time but I saw the importance of it in her life.Spending a lot of time talking to teacher’s in the last year—it came up over and over again that kids test scores are affected by moving to different districts, different expectations, new surroundings to get used to. The list goes on and on.

Just after Christmas, I learned through e-mail one of our boxing boys had to suddenly return to the country he was born in. His father told him in 2 days they were leaving to go back home where his mom and sister’s had gone to care for the dying grandmother and they could not get back to the US so they were going back home to keep the family together. I was shocked as we were just getting to know him. He was making friends and we had hoped to help him get a SSN and some part time work. The dream of starting the club to help the kids prepare for a better future was all coming together and instantly I realized this yong man that we were just getting to know and build skills in was being whisk away in a heart beat and we may never see him again. When I talked with him I simply did not know what to say. Secretly, I was saying to myself–how did that feel to him—he just had to go–another big change–back to what—a country with little opportunities and jobs. Unlike many American kids–he did not question his father he just did as he was told. He was making good progression in school and I wondered where did that leave him now. I said to myself how could I ever (as a teacher) go over this again and again. You teach and build them up and they are whisk away in a heart beat and you start the new semester with another new student. The challenges that kids have in our schools today are so many outside the school that we can not imagine. We wish this young man well …he was with us way too little. So we put on our gloves—make sure our hand wraps are tight and enter the Ring to fight again to be there for our kids but the last round was tough….tough.

 

Leslie is a wife, mother, & grandmother. She has worked in marketing, communications, & writing professionally. For the past 17 years she has resided in the Covington area and doing volunteer work in the King County Area. While her children attended University Place Schools she was actively involved in youth activities and PTA. She was in executive leadership in the organization as President in school PTA on all levels. In addition she held a District PTA leadership position. Currently her youngest child Lisa is a teacher and last year was recognized as NASPE 2009 High School Physical Education Teacher of the Nation. Her two sons are employed in Computer and engineer firms. She has two beautiful grandchildren. Leslie's pride & joy is Pee Wee Hamada her stay at home Cocker spaniel and her inspiration for her first Children's Book: "Pee Wee's Adventure In the Woods" which addresses boundaries for young children and safety issues through an exciting animal book. Leslie has been actively involved in her Community volunteering for over 40 years. She has mentored in high risk elementary schools since college. Presently she is Director for emergency services for her church Kent United Methodist. She is Chair of the Kent Ecumenical Network Board. It is her sixth year on Catholic Community Advocacy Board. She received an award last year from Governor Gregoire for work with felons. This past year she was recognized for work in social justice and poverty by the South King County Human Service Commission. Last year she received an award from the Southern Sudanese Organization in Seattle. In 2005 she received the SKC Award for the Spirit of Caring. In 2005 she traveled to San Francisco to work at the Soup Kitchen of Glide Memorial and help with immigrant Chinese pre-school students at Gum Moon Community. Her passion is working with kids and social justice issues. Presently she is working to start a Kids Boxing Program in the Kent East Hill area to give the kids a great after school program.

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