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Community Spotlight: NOMIS Youth Network

Located in the Benning Road community, NOMIS Youth Network is an after-school boxing program that strives to prevent juvenile delinquency. The program teaches Olympic-style boxing skills in small groups or individually, primarily to youth and young adults, ages 12 through 24. These boxing fundamentals include heavy bag hitting, speed bag work, and defensive and offensive boxing skills. The program also sets up participants to spar with others of their weight and ability, and provides other conditioning such as strength training, jumping rope, and running.

Youth at NOMIS are coached by Robert Simon III, who grew up in the Benning Road community and founded his boxing gym with the goal to use it to keep local youth out of the prison system. His program offers mentorship and the chance to develop self-discipline and self-worth. Plus, program participants learn enough about boxing to compete at a local and national level. This month, we spoke to Robert Simon III, M.A., Executive Director to learn more about how NOMIS is serving the D.C. community.

Tell us about NOMIS’s involvement with Alternative to the Court Experience (ACE)?

Basically, youth who are arrested for misdemeanor offenses in the District of Columbia are referred to ACE providers for up to 6 months of intervention programming; as NOMIS was a Physical Health/Sports program provider.  Once NOMIS receives the referral from ACE, outreach efforts are initiated in an effort to facilitate a face to face and program orientation either with the youth residence or within the NOMIS Boxing Community Center. Youth are required to participate in programming on an agreed upon schedule and their program participation is reported and monitored by a DHS ACE Program Coordinator.  Upon arrival all ACE referred youth are required to sign in and out and their progress is reported monthly to ACE officials.  Hence, a youth has up to 6 months to complete 50 hours of programming or otherwise stipulated by their ACE Program Coordinator. 

Is NOMIS open to any youth in the area, or do they have to qualify?

NOMIS is open to any youth both male and female, who resides in the District of Columbia free of charge.  Typically, the average age of NOMIS youth participates range from 9 years old to 24 years old.

Why do you think boxing is uniquely qualified to prevent juvenile delinquency?

Boxing Intervention is uniquely qualified to prevent Juvenile Delinquency because first and foremost it is an individual sport and allows time for a unique one on one relationship with coaches and mentors.  It offers opportunity for sublimation (working out anger in a socially acceptable manner).

About how many kids are currently participating at NOMIS?

NOMIS serves 150 to 200 youth a year.  Hence, NOMIS has over 150 youth enrolled in our after-school Boxing Academy and Physical Health/Sports programming.

How quickly do you see positive changes in kids after they start coming to your gym?

Typically, we see an immediate change in regard to discipline and respect toward peers and staff.  Since, NOMIS is also a safe haven and a youth development agency a great atmosphere exists where youth can get their youth development needs met within NOMIS rather that by association with crews or gangs or involvement in negative behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, or unhealthy sex.  Youth are also exposed to health and wellness training and counseling as well as a healthy lifestyle with access to a daily fruit bar.   Often times NOMIS staff is the only people in a youth life that listens to them and believes in their dreams.  Hence, NOMIS provides all three of the main components of the resiliency factors such as a caring adult, one who believes in youth and their dreams, and access to opportunities, supports and services for positive goal youth development outcomes.

Do you offer any other programs besides boxing skills?

NOMIS offers Boxing Academy programming, Physical Health/Sports programming, Junior Olympic Boxing and Sports Enrichment summer camp programming, Olympic Summer Training Camp for older youth, Sports Mentoring, Individual Counseling, Group Counseling, Crisis Intervention, leisure pool play (Pool Table), Daily Fruit Bar.

How does NOMIS get operational funds?

NOMIS is a nonprofit organization who typically is grant funded by foundations, corporations, Church's, individual donors, District of Columbia government sponsored agencies.  NOMIS also periodically host fundraising amateur boxing shows.  NOMIS has a few adult members who pay gym donations.

How can the D.C. community support NOMIS?

NOMIS does not have volunteers as all staff either have to have employee background clearances.  NOMIS is always open to receiving donations.  NOMIS Youth Network is presently in need a facility or location to host an amateur boxing tournament such as the DC Armory. or similar facility operated by Events DC. Donations?