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How your life can change.

So it's been about 8 months since my last blog and it's safe to say so much has changed in the World since then. I think we were either going into another lockdown or coming out of one back then and the World was full of doom and gloom. Fast forward 8 months and all those problems now seem to be in the past thank God.

The last lockdown of last year we lost 50% of our Members and I honestly couldn't blame them for leaving because of all the lockdowns we had been through, it really was a tough time in a lot of peoples lives. For me personally the lockdowns reeked havoc on my Anxiety and my mind was all over the place, I couldn't stand the uncertainty of what was going on, and I missed training Jiu Jitsu with my team. I had also left the security of my well paying job to be at the gym full-time which was also putting pressure on our family unit,

In saying all of the above I believe everything happens for a reason, I'm a big believer in Karma and all things be it good or bad will come back to you. When I started or took over this gym my main aim was 1 for Bodey to have a place to train and 2 have the best Jiu Jitsu gym in Mildura. The 2 was an extremely unhealthy goal for me, because I lost site of why I started Jiu Jitsu and who I am as a person. Jiu Jitsu isn't just about winning and losing, it's a lifestyle and it has fantastic mental health helping powers.

Last year I began working with some indigenous teens through MDAS and I really felt a connection with this work, like nothing I had done before. So this year I started educating my self through Indigenous platforms to learn and know more about Aboriginal heritage and culture in Australia. I was ashamed and blown away all at the same time. I was ashamed that at the age of 47 I was oblivious to what our First Nations People had gone through, and I was blown away by our First Nations Peoples resilience to still be forging on. After this I guess you can say my course was set, I had finally at the ripe old age of 47 realised what my passion was in life and it was now time to try and make change and hopefully make a difference.

I started with offering a few Scholarships at our gym for Teens who may or may not have been able to do Jiu Jitsu for a myriad of reasons. Then our teens class slowly started filling up with First Nations kids, mostly girls who all have there own stories and I can't describe the gratitude I had to see this. Some of these kids, WOW, is all I'll say as their stories are mind-blowing. Then I thought what else could we be doing to help this community feel included, feel safe, so I started the First Nations Torres Strait Islands Program. This program is currently run for free fortnightly on a Saturday and is for all FNTSI people to come along, have fun, learn some Jiu Jitsu, have a feed and just yarn with each other about life. Our last session we had 35 kids attend it, it was amazing seeing these kids train, laugh, smile and feel welcomed.

We now have 6 fully sponsored Athletes though our gym, and hopefully we can keep adding to that with kids who need it. We have over 40 indigenous members, we have 6 indigenous Junior Coaches, and we have a bloody good culture and gym. I don't get Government funding and I don't do it for the funding anyway. I do it because today I picked up a teen and took her to school for tenth straight school day, before this she hadn't been in months. I do this for the smiles I see on these kids faces when they achieve something they thought was too hard. I do this for the hugs I get every night. I do this for the snapchat chats I have with these kids every night. I do this for the moments I'm driving by myself and all of a sudden I realise I have a stupid smile on my face because I'm thinking about something one of these kids said too me or did in class. I do this because we now have our spare room set up for a couple of these girls who now call it their room. I do it because these kids feel safe, feel included, feel heard, feel empowered and most of all feel themselves.

I'm 47 years old and my life has never been so good and I would like to thank everyone of these kids I'm now involved with because we are helping each other be better everyday.

We still have a huge amount of work to do to close the gap in this country but I have faith that one day we will get there. But we can't rely on Governments to do it, it has to happen from the grass roots, us, we need to make change and we need to make it now.

Never give up people -o-

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