Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Non-profit gym may have to close its doors

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It’s been providing a safe place for community youth for the last year and a half, but the Underground Gym on Henderson Highway may close its doors at the end of October due to a lack of funding.


The gym at 251 Henderson Hwy. is open free of charge for area kids. More than 300 kids are signed up to use the facility.


It provides punching bags, cardio workouts, weight training and boxing lessons Mondays through Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m.


A full-sized boxing ring that was once in the building has already been sold to help keep the gym open.


Kassandra Johnson, who volunteers at the gym, said the city pulled gym funding that was supposed to be in place for at least another year.


"This place means a lot to me because it’s for the kids," Johnson said.


"There will be a big impact if it closes, a lot of kids love this place. They come here for a place to not be harassed and to learn boxing, it keeps them off the street."


Ricky Olson, who has been going to the gym for over a year, said if the gym closes it will be hard to find another one he can attend.


"If it closes I don’t know what I’m going to do, find another gym I guess, but this one offers free stuff," said 20-year-old Olson.


"It will be a financial issue."


A city spokesperson said a community incentive grant was provided to the gym earlier this year to help with costs of operation.


"On April 25, 2012, council approved a one-time community incentive grant contribution in the amount of $17,000 to operate the Underground Gym," Michelle Bailey said.  


"The funding is in place until the Underground Gym no longer requires it or until there are no more funds remaining. The funding does not expire on a certain date."


Johnson said there is a petition being circulated that has over 300 signatures, and the gym is planning a fundraising concert, at which kids from the gym will perform.


The concert will be held on Sat., Oct. 13 at Gordon-King Memorial United Church located at 127 Cobourg Ave. at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10.


Olson said if the gym closes the area will have one less location for youth to go to.


"This is the only good place in the area. We had Kelvin (Community Centre) but they shut it down," Olson said.


"This is as close as it gets."


For more information on the fundraiser email Johnson at kassy493@hotmail.com.


Those interested in signing the petition can do so at the gym Monday to Friday from 6 to 8 p.m.
 


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adrian.alleyne@canstarnews.com

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