The gym environment was put to full use this year and we found at times we were going to burst at the seams. We had a very functional set up with beginners on Tuesday and Thursday, run by Anton Gilmore, to get the kids on board with the 4 principles, being: (1) First Impressions, (2) Consequence to action, (3) Compassion and (4) moving forward positively.
The demand on the team to be available at all classes was high, and we managed with Jacques Du Plessis on Monday taking the Elite fighters, Reggie Mogashoa on Wednesday, Luke Lamprecht on Friday and Terry Behan on Saturdays. The Saturday morning class became a favourite for anyone who wanted to sample a painful 3 hour fun boot camp. Luke has become a tour guide of the Jo'burg scene and takes us on educational runs every Saturday with a story to follow.
We had more than 50 boxers compete over the year and could possibly be the biggest club in the country having so many active fighters. From a boxing perspective we had a very good year with a win ratio in the 60% mark. In addition, the kids were cared for, in that we got them into schools, organised their papers, fed them, arranged clothing and school stationary. Our boys were acknowledged as having exemplary manners at events, and we were mentioned as the fastest growing club in history by Kit Markotter - from zero to 60 fighters in 2 years with at least 9 events happening in this period. Our events took place in parks around Johannesburg with a great Tower To Tower event held under the Hillbrow and Brixton Towers. Shine studios was the setting for the best view at an event which over looked rustic Johannesburg.
Going forward from a class perspective it has been decided that we need more space to facilitate the sparring sessions so that ring craft can be perfected and hence we are searching for a size-able room to facilitate that function.
JHB AUTISM SCHOOL BOXING CLASSES
Learners between ages 10 and 21 attend the boxing classes in groups of 6-15 learners at a time. Learners are grouped according to age and level of support. The boxing programme is intended to help with: (1) Sensory modulation, (2) muscle tone, stamina and general fitness, and (3) an appropriate outlet to express feelings such as anger and frustration
The learners enjoy attending the boxing classes, they have responded well to the activities and they appear to like the coaches. By engaging in the boxing lessons, the learners have benefited from having a balance in all aspects of their life: social, physical, and mental. In addition, we have observed the following positive outcomes:
• Some learners have shown improved concentration for the remainder of the day after the boxing class
• For some learners the boxing class has allowed them to reach a “calm-alert state” and decreased fidgeting, wandering and self-stimulatory behaviors have been noticed.
• In learners with more self-awareness, we have noticed an increase in
confidence and self-esteem and these learners seem to enjoy participating in something that is age appropriate and part of “neuro-typical society”
• Learners are becoming stronger and fitter although for most of the learners core strength remains a difficulty.
• Some parents reported that their children had an increased appetite and improved quality of sleep.
• Learners with Autism respond well to visual ques and so the boxing gym provided a good platform for productive imitation of the coach’s techniques and practices.
Fight with Insight has readily agreed to transform the boxing gym into a more Autism friendly environment by putting up Makaton signs and symbols for certain boxing related concepts. This will enhance the communication of the learners in the gym. The coach and his team were very willing to make adaptations to the boxing gym (e.g. lower a punching bag) to cater for the specific needs of some of the learners. Parents were invited to observe their children during one of the boxing lessons. This generated great admiration for the sport of boxing as parents showed enthusiasm and eagerness for their children to continue.
We have identified a need to develop a more individualized program for the learners with high support needs. In these classes, the focus is on one or two movements that can be repeated throughout the session. However, for the low support learners, they are able to cope a 45- 60 minute session and they enjoy the variation and new challenges presented in each session.
TARA H. MOROSS CENTER
Tara H. Moross Center is a specialized government psychiatric hospital. It is based in the heart of Hurlingham, Sandton and services people (of different gender, age, race and ethnicity) referred from district and regional hospitals in South Africa. Tara has a specialized adolescent ward and children’s ward for both males and females. The patients admitted to this unit present with various psychiatric diagnosis which affect their overall function. When admitted to the ward the patient’s and parents/guardians consent to the multidisciplinary program that is run within the ward. Occupational Therapy (OT) services form part of the program. Occupational Therapy values the ability to engage in meaningful occupations despite ones impairment or disability. It is within the OT program that the Boxing program was initiated.
The OT department collaborated with the Fight With Insight (FWI) boxing instructors to initiate boxing sessions once a week with the children and for the adolescents. The aim of the collaboration was to provide these adolescents who come from various backgrounds and present with psycho-social difficulty the opportunity to:
• Learn new skills (directly related to boxing and life skill’s based)
• Engage in an activity that promotes physical health through exercise and remediating or rehabilitating motor related skills such as hand-foot co-ordination
• Managing emotional health by practicing things like mindfulness and anger management, assertiveness and behaving in a socially acceptable way.
• Sensory stimulation
• Ability to discriminate between productive vs unproductive leisure activities
• Engage in an occupation that is not conventionally found in a hospital setting but could facilitate both de-institutionalization as well as reintegration if they choose to pursue boxing outside of the hospital context.
The mental health care users whom have had access to the boxing have not only reported to enjoy engaging in a sport that is not generally found in a hospital, they have also reported various therapeutic value such as being able to think clearer after a session and having their mood elevated, as well as note weight loss and fitness related benefits.
The Life Skills Programme at Fight With Insight was run by 3 intern psychologists from the Johannesburg Parent & Child Counseling Centre.
The program aimed to improve the understanding and application of life skills appropriate for the children aged 7-13. Topics included Emotional Expression; Bullying; Helping Others; Mindfulness; Confidence and Self-Esteem; Goal Setting; Study Skills; Interpersonal Interaction; and Problem Solving.
Although many of the participants found it difficult to participate in the group activities, and behavioral challenges remained throughout the year, the boys were able to better verbalize their difficulties, and over time, improved in their communication skills – both with the facilitators and each other. They also showed improvement in their emotional vocabulary, and presentation skills. The boys discussed a need for additional assistance with school work, and study skills. They responded especially well to the sessions involving music and art, and were highly motivated by activities involving competition and positive reinforcement.
Fight with Insight started as a project of The Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children, in providing a rehabilitation programme for child sexual offenders. Although, Fight with Insight has since become an independent organization, there are still many children who are referred to us as a part of Diversion Programmes for minor sexual offenses, substance abuse and other petty crimes. Approximately 26 children participated in our Diversion programme, which includes individual counseling sessions, as well as a weekly Boxing Bootcamp. All, except for three children referred for substance abuse, were successfully rehabilitated.
The work that Tali and Terry completed with the Fight with Insight children and youth, during 2016, focused on mindfulness and the development of ‘insight’ - with the use of breathing techniques and physical movement (yoga). These focus on the development of a connection between the physical body and thought (mind).
Meditation was used as a tool for providing the participants with the experience of being inside the boxing ring, before they actually entered the ring. For a brief period before each fight, each participant spent time imagining themselves facing their opponents, walking the motions of the fight, and envisioning their desired outcome. Athletes who visualize accomplishing their goals or objectives experience less stress during performance as their muscle memory remembers the visualization as if it has already taken place in real life. Meditation is essential in reducing stress as it reduces cortisol levels in the brain. By being calm and centered, participants are more able to remain calm under the pressure of a tournament, and essentially in their every-day life.
Lastly, meditation and the development of sensory awareness of the body and bodily functions places the athlete in a position where they are better equipped with the knowledge of the feelings or functioning of their own body. The development of control and awareness over one’s body spurs a sense of identity and deeper sense of self. Encouraging responsibility over consequence and furthering self-determination. The participants at Fight with Insight embraced the mindfulness openly and enthusiastically, and reported that they felt calmer and more focused after completing the programme.
In response to the children’s need for literacy support, Fight with Insight launched a full library facility, with thanks to Community Hours SA and Vin Groovin. With the continued support of Community hours SA, this library space has provided children with all of the textbooks that they need for school and a wealth of reading material that they are free to borrow and return. Many children also use the library as a homework and peer tutoring space.
Fight with Insight also conducted reading assessments on over 60 children, with the assistance of Bronwyn Mann, Karen Lamprecht and Vanessa. It was found that the majority of these children were reading at a level below their current school grade.