Christina El Gazzar
Christina El Gazzar let her fists do the talking.
Having spent the past 20 years working as a speech language pathologist (SLP) in Salmon Arm, El Gazzar had been searching for a way to give back to her community.
She spent two decades working for Interior Health as a frontline SLP and is now a professional practice lead, supporting those in the community with speech and language issues.
But she wanted to do something more for the community. Enter the Salmon Arm Boxing Club’s Hit 2 Fit Challenge.
El Gazzar had taken up boxing as a way to get in shape and the club challenge would allow her to share a passion for supporting speech and language development with the community and combine it with the sweet science of boxing.
“The boxing club’s challenge had three elements to it: Get in shape, raise money for something near and dear to you and then you could get in the ring, if you wanted,” said El Gazzar.
She would raise funds to install a communication board at Salmon Arm’s universally-accessible Blackburn Park.
“Young children with communication challenges need support in order to express the most basic of human needs, such as making requests, conveying emotions and socially connecting with others,” she wrote to Salmon Arm council, seeking permission to raise funds and have the board installed in the city park.
Having a communication board at Blackburn Park will provide children with the supports they need to be successful in this setting.
“There are kids with communication difficulties who go to the park and this is something they can use,” says El Gazzar. “It also raises awareness with the public. If they see the board and start talking about it, it reminds us all that there are young people everywhere who struggle with communication.”
As for the final part of the challenge, stepping into the boxing ring, El Gazzar also took that on, winning a unanimous decision after three one-minute rounds of boxing, as part of a gala fundraiser night.
“I didn’t decide to get in the ring until close to the gala. It was nerve-wracking. I did it once and am now retired from competition,” she laughs. “I am just thrilled that this project is now completed and can help young people communicate.”
The communication board was recently installed in the park.