BTJ’s Kaswell Fitness Center: A Lifesaver for Boys in Distress

Mid-morning, “Dani*,” a painfully thin 8th grader, entered Boys Town Jerusalem’s Kaswell Fitness Center to begin working out. “I need help adjusting the weights,” he called out to Doron Deutch, head of BTJ’s physical education department. “You’re doing great, Dani,” Deutch encouraged the youngster. Every few minutes, Dani kept calling the teacher for more attention. “Dani’s parents’ bitter divorce has devastated him,” Deutch explains. “His teachers and social worker are there for him, but for now his real refuge is in the fitness room. Here his healing begins.”

The Fitness Center is open to all BTJ students

Day and night, the Kaswell Fitness Center is open for students from Grade 7 through the College of Applied Engineering (CAE). Boasting a wide range of top-of-the-line equipment, the facility is packed with students.

The Fitness Center is a lifesaver

“It’s a true lifesaver,” Deutch declares. “Two years ago, ‘Avi’ was an eleventh grader whose homelife was so agonizing that he lost control. When his weight topped 250 pounds, he became dangerously depressed,” says Deutch. “Miraculously, the Fitness Center became his haven. We worked closely together, and steadily he lost weight and gained confidence. Today, at 150 pounds, he’s a new man studying engineering at CAE, and continuing to work out here at night.”

The Fitness Center has also helped with self-image

“Ezra’s” story is quite different. “In eighth grade, this boy’s self-image was at rock bottom,” Deutch recalls. “He suffered from a medical problem that left him bald and weak. The best I could offer him was a hand grip, which he could barely squeeze. But his will was iron. With each painful advance, I supplied him with a steadily stronger gripper. He’d carry it everywhere, daring his classmates to outdo him. In time, he reached the top, gaining confidence and pride. Today Ezra is excelling in his college studies.”

The Fitness Center is thanks to Mr. Robert Kaswell

Doron Deutch lauds the generosity of Mr. Robert Kaswell, who funded the fitness center which gives physical and emotional strength to countless youth in distress. “I see miracles happen here every day.”

*photo for illustrative purposes only

*not his real name