THE ENGLEWOOD CRUSHERS
The Crushers Club was founded by Sally Hazelgrove after working for years with the most troubled kids in Englewood, on Chicago's South Side. The program recruits youth from the street and troublesome boys from the local schools. She gives them an alternative to gang life by providing a safe haven, an extended family where kids find they are loved, respected and expected to keep out of trouble. Some of the older boys are on the payroll to help run the program and coach the younger ones.The results are impressive : 90% improvement in school performance for the boys involved in the program. Only 10% of the boys with previous arrests have been arrested again. The average for the rest of Englewood is 87% .
In 2013, I was researching a story on the Chicago Golden Gloves for a sports magazine. That is when I discovered the world of boxing, but also how the sport was used to teach discipline and perseverance to inner city kids. One thing led to the other until I found the Crusher's Club, a boxing program in Englewood, the most dangerous neighborhood in the city, run by a caucasian woman with a unique approach to the problems of juvenile delinquency.
I was stuned by her devotion, her commitment to the cause and her faith that could move mountains. From that point on, I started spending a lot of time at the Crusher's Club, getting to know the kids, and I am still today. For the past 2 years, I have followed Sally and some of the kids over good and hard times, until two of them graduated High School this year.
The project is ongoing, and I started documenting in video too.