Comic Relief funding dedicated to Ulster Amateur MMA Club

danny youth eventApril 21 marked the deadline for applications to the post of Youth MMA Coach with Danny Corr’s Ulster Amateur MMA Club at the ZKJ Dojo, fully funded by Comic Relief.

In addition to his roles as national amateur team coach and director of the Ulster Amateur MMA Association, Danny Corr (pictured right) has dedicated himself tirelessly to social and community development among local youth, providing recognised data through training programme “Fight to Unite.” Last September IMMAF.org reported the inspiring results of the 18-month Fight to Unite pilot following an independent evaluation that paved the way for further government approval.

Years of planning and belief have paid off for Danny Corr’s Ulster Amateur MMA Club. The commitment to providing pilot programmes has convinced authorities of the many benefits of a structured Youth MMA program that provide avenues into education, employment and youth services.

Through a unique partnership formed with a youth focused group, the Northern Ireland Youth Forum, Corr has been able to secure major funding to not only run a series of programmes for the next two years, but they have broken down all perceived stereotypes and gained funding to employ a young MMA coach and a young youth worker to work hand in hand, with the inclusion of a pension.

In an era where employment is hard to come by, where MMA competitors both amateur and professional alike struggle to finance their careers, this model is ground breaking. Not only will it allow actual salaries to be earned but it will allow all the youth participants on the programme to train without cost.

The programme targets 12 to 24-year-olds with one key focus being on participation of young girls, something of which IMMAF itself is keen to promote. In the north of Ireland, especially young people are facing a myriad of challenges in their lives, their realities consist of all forms of disadvantage, educational underachievement, high levels of unemployment and limited opportunities for personal development.

Corr detailed that Prof. Siobhan O’Neill, an expert in mental health at the University of Ulster, has researched that approximately 40% of people in the region have been affected in some way by traumatic events linked to The Troubles, and that around 17% of people have seen somebody dead or injured.

“That is a very high proportion for a small population,” Corr added. “Everybody knows someone who has been affected. The target beneficiaries of our programmes are the children and grandchildren of that generation.

“Many of the young people we are working with find themselves either involved in or are at risk of becoming involved in criminality, antisocial behavior, alcohol and drug abuse, violence and inter-community conflict. This programme will reach out to them and transform their lives in a positive way.

“I am so excited about finally seeing years of hard work and belief in what we do coming to fruition and I am so thankful to Comic Relief for having faith in our ability, our unique programme and our sport. Currently we have the highest levels of suicide in the UK, a recent study has highlighted that Northern Ireland experienced 16.7 deaths from suicide per 100,000 as opposed to 7.8 in London or 9.2 in Wales. This has been be attributed directly to the conflict legacy issues so keenly felt in the target areas for our programme. This project will give a strong and sustainable alternative for our young people and provide them with an array of support and help. My hope is that we can share the benefits with all IMMAF member nations and build champions in communities and in competition.”

By IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran

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