Feet First Foundation Using Boxing to Help CA Youth Navigate Life



Feet First Foundation Using Boxing to Help CA Youth Navigate Life

The Feet First Foundation has developed a program in the California public school system which uses boxing as the catalyst for growth in the development of young people.

Program founders Dan Dorsett and Sean Sharkey are proud and pleased  to report that their concept has been embraced within Santa Clara (CA) County.

“We recently have gone into the schools in the San Jose, California area to work with kids that are being referred to the Wellness Center,” said executive director Dorsett.

“The Wellness Center has asked for our trainers to come in and work with the kids to help improve their emotions, their outlook, their overall behavior,” he continued. “But more importantly, just to keep them in school and get them back into class and see what's after class. Right now, we're working with a few high schools, and elementary and middle schools, and we're getting great results. The program itself has been supported by the county of Santa Clara.”

Feet First Foundation uses boxing as a building block to lift up youngsters in need of direction

Feet First Foundation spreads the word on the benefits of boxing

Children are benefitting massively, and are reporting that they’re excited to be receiving wisdom which is helping them navigate life.

It’s no secret that drugs and alcohol can become troublesome to teens. Anxiety and depression rates in children have been climbing for years. The sport of boxing forces one to reflect upon themselves, and in reflection, many newbies to pugilism find a new and more positive direction in life.

How many world champions were forged out of adversity, only to have boxing and boxing tutors help guide them to a new direction in life? The answer: tons and tons of people, from all over the world.

Boxing is the sport of the underdog. The Feet First Foundation is operating at the grassroots level. The response from youngsters craving validation and support when they are at a vulnerable and impressionable stage has been heart-warming to the founders.

“When we start our program, it is similar to a boxing class with a warm-up and step-by-step training following textbook instruction,” said Dorsett about the process.

“What that means is we start with the footwork and we work with arm drills – things an actual boxer would do. We have them work on the fundamentals of the jab, a power punch, and the hook, as well as all of the things a professional boxing trainer would teach you. Our program director Sean Sharkey is the one who created the physical fitness curriculum part of it. Also, we have Amy Berner, who is a licensed social clinical worker therapist. She put together a curriculum that outlines a variety of emotional building skills.

“The program is more so about building empowerment in the individual,” Dorsett continued. “We empower the students to feel better about themselves, and we're grateful for the state of California recognizing the work we're doing.”

Sean Sharkey, co founder of the Feet First Foundation

Sean Sharkey, program director for the Feet First Foundation

The Feet First Foundation  allows students to earn credits during school hours while learning about their mind, body, and soul through the art of boxing.

“The schools that we're now working with are in South San Jose,” said Dorsett. “We first started at Oak Grove High School and then moved over to Andrew Hill High School, and the most recent one we have been at is the Lairon College Preparatory Academy. The students that we have been servicing range from fourth grade all the way to twelfth grade.”

Yes, the program wasn’t built to create the next George Foreman, but rather the next George Washington. The Feet First Foundation is working to create leaders and instill leadership capacity in those participating.

Dorsett and Sharkey feel immense pride in how the project is progressing. In ten or twenty years, they will be seeing some of these kids who are lawyers, teachers, nurses, and doctors come back to visit the program and share their stories of growth. That’s better than a title belt, according to the founders.

“In fact, some of the students that we're working with have expressed interest in being a trainer for us after they graduate,” said Dorsett proudly. “So, not only are we taking these kids that are not sure what direction to take in life, but they are given the newfound confidence to want to be part of the future of Feet First and help other kids. I think it's a huge success what we're doing in San Jose, and it's just a pilot to show other cities what we can do for their families and kids who are in need of services like ours.”

The goal is simple – bring the highest quality program to as many individuals as possible.
“I think we have found a great formula,” said Sharkey. “The program helps so many different people through the sport of boxing.”

For more information about the Feet First Foundation visit their website or you can call them at 833-339-9111.

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.