Mixed Martial Arts Festival keeps kids positive
NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - Sometimes a community center is more than just a place to hang. At a Suncoast Estates outreach program, it's a place to find yourself.
"When i got into MMA, it completely turned my life around," said Jason King, the director and founder.
King wanted the same for others. So, on Thursday he started MMA, or mixed martial arts, classes. He's hoping to change the lives of children and teens in North Fort Myers.
"So kids don't have to turn to gangs, violence, drugs stealing and criminal acts," explained King. "That they can come here and have an alternative."
That is the alternative. Two-hour long sessions combining Brazilian Jujitsu, kick-boxing and Maui Thai style-fighting.
"I love the people here," said Elizabeth Haskett, 14.
Elizabeth joined for one reason.
"I want to lose weight, I won't even lie," she said. "I want to lose weight and i want to be able to fight in case someday somebody tries to bother me."
Enrique Martinez wants to stay active.
"I'm always home," said Enrique, 16. "I don't want to be sitting on my couch watching TV all day."
About 70 have signed up, so far. The charity event was not only recruiting but collecting canned foods and a $3 admission fee.
"It helps the team be able to buy equipment and things they need for their new team," said Jessica Simpson, a volunteer at the gate.
While for King, time in the MMA cage is time spent beating the odds.
"I can honestly say that martial arts has seriously saved my life," King explained. "I would either be dead or in prison if it wasn't for meeting the instructor that i did."
To check out Suncoast Estate's MMA outreach program, call (239) 731-9838. It's free for anyone 17 and younger and $25 if you're older.