Friday, August 9, 2013

SEALfit teaches leadership while getting teens in shape

SEALfit in conjunction with the Portland Police Department are getting ready for the third class of SEALfit recruits to begin September 3. This seven-week program taught by a retired Navy Seal uses modified Navy Seal training to instill leadership and teamwork skills into the youth participants. They are looking for youth ages 15 to 18 years old in the greater Portland area to sign up.

“The experience is designed to enhance the self-esteem and personal resilience of our youth and to empower them to build bridges with other culturally diverse youth in our community at large through an intensive cross-cultural leadership and physical fitness collaboration with our training team and our law enforcement community,” said Lt. Janine Roberts of the Portland Police Department.

There are three sessions weekly from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Monday and Fridays are the physical training and Wednesday is the experiential leadership class at the Portland Police Department, according to Roberts.

The classroom sessions are also interactive with lessons on teambuilding, hand/eye coordination and listening, but very little lecture, said Roberts. In the past there have been mentors from many local and federal agencies like Portland Police, State Police, US Marshalls, Cumberland County Sheriffs, Maine Department of Corrections, Westbrook Police and South Portland Police.

“It’s also relationship building with the mentors,” Roberts said.

“We are looking for a diverse cross section of youth with different backgrounds, religions and cultures,” she said. They are looking for 20 teens to step outside their comfort zone to see, “They have a lot more in common than they do differences,” Roberts said.  

Teens must send in an application, which can be found at the Portland Police Department website, and they must commit to attending all 21 sessions to graduate.

At the beginning of the seven weeks the students do a self-assessment test, which gets repeated at the end to check if there is a difference, and there usually is, said Roberts. They also do a baseline physical fitness test at the beginning to check for progress.

Uniforms, ball caps, shorts, t-shirts, sneakers and a track suit, are provided to help foster a team mentality.
The program builds every year adding in a larger anti-bulling component and nutrition portion for this session. “These skills are going to take them onward in life successfully because of the info they have received,” said Roberts.

Funding for this upcoming session hasn’t been secured as of yet, but should be by the start date, according to Roberts.

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