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 Students Relieve Stress With Punches from the Heart

As they pummeled punching bags, nearly 150 students at San Diego SOAR Academy in the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility were getting out more than just energy.

They were also getting out frustrations and focusing on eradicating the things that may be causing problems in their lives as part of an outreach effort Oct. 24 from a local foundation focused on boxing.

“I got all of my anger out on the bag,” said a 17 year old student. “I feel relaxed.”

The effort was part of the 40,000 Punches from the Heart fundraiser organized by the Any Body Can Youth Foundation, which provides after-school boxing programs for students in poor areas. As part of a bigger effort, the foundation brought in three punching bags to the detention facility and gave students one minute to hit the bags as many times as they could. They ended up socking the bags more than 40,000 times.

“We’re looking for them to get energy out in a positive way,” said Matt McKnight, supervising probation officer.

The punches represented eradicating problems in the community such as gang violence, domestic violence, and police brutality, said Greta Hulley, a teacher at the school.

“As you throw your punches, you’re basically ridding yourself of these things,” she said.

Some of the students who participated Oct. 24 said they were surprised by how long a minute can seem when you’re punching a bag hundreds of times. One said the exercise was tiring, but motivating.

“I really enjoyed it,” she said.

The foundation and its president, Billy Moore, have been working with students at the detention facility for six months, connecting with them through motivational speeches. Students have been very receptive.

Moore said he’d like to see the work be replicated nationwide.

“This is something that I truly believe can go across the whole country,” he said.