Jordan’s Corner is a Saturday afternoon boxing and fitness program offered at Warehouse Gym in Highland Park to special needs children ages 8–13. This program is the brainchild of Walter Parenti, a client and friend of Warehouse Gym co-owner Daniel Falcon. The program is named after Daniel’s brother Jordan who was diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age. As Jordan grew older, Walter and Dan witnessed the positive effect boxing and fitness had on Jordan’s coordination, socialization with others, and overall well-being. The transformation with Jordan was so impressive that they knew other children of various needs would benefit from the program.
Forest & Bluff sat down with Daniel and learned firsthand of his passion for Jordan’s Corner and his hopes for the program’s future.
Forest & Bluff: How did Jordan’s Corner get started?
Daniel Falcon: Last summer, Walter and I asked some of Warehouse Gym’s clients—Rina Norris, Mary Parthe, and Donna Ciancio—to get Jordan’s Corner off the ground. We then approached two organizations—Northern Suburban Special Education District (NSSED) and Have Dreams—to help us find the right students for Jordan’s Corner. With the support of their networks, we launched our first weekly class and, due to demand, added a second. We now have seven children participating in each class, allowing us to give personalized attention to each student.
F&B: Who are the best students for Jordan’s Corner?
DF: With the help of NSSED and Have Dreams, we developed an intake program to assist us in finding children who are a good match for Jordan’s Corner. Our ideal students are ages 8–13, have the ability to follow directions, are able to participate in group activities, and would benefit from the consistency of a set schedule of activities.
F&B: What do you think this program has meant to the students?
DF: Every week, the Jordan’s Corner Team continues to observe the children enhance their motor skills, improve their ability to follow directions, and positively interact with their peers, instructors, and volunteers. Toward the end of each class, one instructor safely spars with a child in the ring while the rest of the children cheer on
We have had one child who refused to participate in any activity for the first two classes. He would watch everyone else and walk around the gym but not participate, even with a lot of coaxing from the instructors and volunteers. Suddenly, during the third class, he joined in and completed a few of the warm-up drills with the class. The following week, he participated in more of the activities, including the sparring in a modified manner, and he has continued to engage every week since! He hasn’t put boxing gloves on yet, but we think that it won’t be too long before he does. This is one example of many that validates why we created Jordan’s Corner in the first place.
F&B: What has Jordan’s Corner meant to you?
DF: The children and their parents have been amazing to work with since the very first class. Each and every child shows up every week with a smile and positive attitude, ready to work. We receive and give a lot of hugs, just watching the children feel good about their accomplishments means so much to us!
For the Jordan’s Corner Team, the biggest reward is watching the children improve their boxing/fitness skills every week while enjoying every minute of the class. The progress is amazing and truly measurable. We hope we are giving as much to the children as they give to us.
F&B: What do you hope to accomplish by offering this program?
DF: Using Jordan as our inspiration, we hope that we can positively affect special needs children and their families by introducing them to boxing and fitness. The Jordan’s Corner Team is made up of individuals who incorporate boxing and fitness into their own lives and truly appreciate how health and fitness can improve the quality of life, both mentally and physically. We’ve created a family atmosphere at Warehouse Gym where you may walk in a stranger and leave a member of their family.
F&B: What does the future of this program look like?
DF: We will continue to modify the program content and activities as we move forward to make sure we focus on delivering a successful program for special needs children. We are currently in the process of organizing Jordan’s Corner as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Our goal is to raise funds to pay for gym space (currently being donated by Warehouse Gym), as well as provide hand wraps, boxing gloves, and T-shirts to the class participants so we can continue to offer free classes to special needs children. We would like to positively impact as many children as we can, so we will continue to work with quality organizations such as Have Dreams and NSSED to assist us with our mission. Aside from the Jordan’s Corner Team leading the classes each week, several of our Jordan’s Corner volunteers are teenagers who attend the classes each Saturday.
F&B: How can people learn more about Jordan’s Corner?
DF: We have a Jordan’s Corner Facebook page. Additionally, we’re developing Jordan’s Corner content for the Warehouse Gym website. So stay tuned! If you have specific questions about Jordan’s Corner, please email [email protected].