As a drill instructor punished young Chelsea men with squats, knee bends, jump tucks and a variety of sit up exercises – the young people didn’t give up, but rather seemed to beg for more.
It’s been a pattern that’s repeated itself daily for the last seven weeks as the first-ever Chelsea Youth Police Academy unfolded this summer with 18 young people sticking out what is an off-shoot of the summer youth employment initiative. More than 20 applied for the academy through the Chelsea Collaborative, and officers selected 20 recruits. Two left the program, but 18 have stuck it out.
For the past seven weeks, Officers Keith Sweeney, Dave Batchelor Jr., Joe Cordes and Sammy Mojica have ushered the 18 Chelsea young people through hard physical training, and a classroom regimen of police training – as well as a few field trips.
Every Thursday morning, the Carter Park Crossfit Gym – owned by Firefighters Wayne Ulwick and Blady Sanchez – have donated their space for a morning workout with their instructor Jorge Monzor.
“We start every day off with physical training and Carter Park did donate one day a week to us, which has been great,” said Officer Keith Sweeney. “This is the first year and the overall goal is to build relationships with the youth in Chelsea. All three of us are assigned to community services and are stationed in the Chelsea Schools, so we know a lot of the kids already. We have a lot of good programs, but this is by far the best one.”
Said Batchelor, “We’ve had other kids come up to us after hearing about what we’re doing, and they want to know if the program is open and if they can join.”
Officer Cordes said it’s a program that promotes structure, and he said often young people in Chelsea crave that structure. That’s why, he believes, they have flocked to a program that challenges them physically and teaches military drills and police tactics.
“I think a lot of young people lack structure and when I went to the military, I didn’t think I wanted structure, but I miss it now,” he said. “High school kids want structure and love the camaraderie and brotherhood that has come with this academy.”
All said that Chief Brian Kyes and City Manager Tom Ambrosino are fully behind the program, and are promoting it wherever they go.
Sweeney said he is happy to see that a partnership with Carter Park grew out of the Academy and he hopes that will continue in the school year.
“When these guys opened, they called us and wanted to get high school kids in here,” he said. “When we started the Academy, we thought it was a perfect opportunity. I’m happy for these kids. I grew up in Chelsea and there was nothing like this for us when we were growing up.”
Co-owner Wayne Ulwick said the mission of the gym is to give back to the community as much as it is to operate as a business.
“Before we even opened up, that was the goal was to get these kids here,” he said. “We do this because it’s close to our hearts and not for the money.”
In addition, Sweeney said the recruits have had to learn to be on time, bring their lunch, have two uniforms ready and do their homework for the class portion.
“They never missed a beat,” he said with a smile.
FRONT 6577 –
Instructor Jorge Monzor gives orders to the Chelsea Youth Police Academy recruits last Thursday, Aug. 9, at the Carter Park Crossfit. The first-ever youth academy has found great success over seven weeks this summer, with 18 recruits sticking it out for a tough summer of physical training and police-based instruction. By all accounts, the young people have thoroughly enjoyed it – as have the officers.
Academy recruit Oliver Romero sweats it out on Thursday.
Push-ups have become second nature to Academy recruits like Robert Rossetti, shown here last Thursday during a rigorous training session at Carter Park Crossfit. The Crossfit donated the gym one morning per week for seven weeks to the Academy.
Frankie Suarez shows the strain as he does endless amounts of squat thrusts.