A kind gesture goes a long way, especially for the Cosmos Group for disabled students.
For two months, Kensei Martial Arts Owner Kent Brown has given complimentary martial arts classes to the group, allowing them to come out to the gym every Friday for one hour.
“It’s phenomenal, especially to have an organization like Kensei truly give of themselves. They provide this opportunity to our clients free of cost, not only the facility, but the training. All we had to purchase was gloves,” said Stephanie Ball, executive director of Cosmos.
Cosmos is a triad of companies with one of their organizations working specifically under the human services realm.
“We work in partnership with Government of Alberta, United Way, Life Long Learning Association and other grant funders to provide community services and employment for people that face barriers,” said Ball, adding that those barriers could be a cognitive disability, mental health, brain injury, etc.
Part of what they do at Cosmos is support those who are on limited and fixed incomes to access opportunities for recreation and community support and leisure that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to access.
“This partnership started a few months ago between Cosmos as an exploratory pilot project to see if any of our clients would be interested in becoming members of Kensei and participating in some classes and obviously learning some mixed martial arts skills.”
She said everything that Brown and the gym have given is really of their business and of their heart.
Brown said the decision to take part was spearheaded with some of his students who were training with him in conjunction with the Cosmos Group.
He said he thought it to be a good idea for the gym to have a program and test it out to see how they would do.
“I just thought it would be amazing to be able to try to work with them and see what we could do,” said Brown.
Within the two month time frame, the group of eight to 10 students were able to learn every combo and every type of strike one needs to know for the first couple levels of a kickboxing class.
“There’s so many different levels, whether it’s with down syndrome, autism or even Jeff who has a brain injury. He doesn’t even fall in class anymore,” he said, adding the balance and the brain synapses are growing constantly in the Cosmos students.
Brown said when the Cosmos Group first came in, they knew the rough idea of mechanical movements, but now they know all of the movements and can put together combos of hand and feet technical striking. He said their balance, movement and dexterity has also all tripled from when they first started.
The group’s sessions finish at the end of this month, but Brown said he hopes to continue it for as long as he can.
“It’s probably the funnest class I have for me to see how they grow. The part that I love that martial arts gives is the empowerment, whether it’s from a four-year-old to a 60-year-old, its something that I find regular sports don’t give.”