Stories from the Mat - The Power of Genuine Relationships as a Vehicle for Social Change

Melanie is a student from Level Ground MMA ( http://www.levelgroundmma.com )

More and more organizations are using sports as a vehicle for social change.  This is incredible and we applaud this rising trend, but, you may wonder, what makes Level Ground so unique?

While we differentiate ourselves in large part through our holistic model by providing mentorship, academic advancement, and youth employment to the students we serve, it is the culture that really serves as the 'magic' of Level Ground.

While many organizations seek to serve as many youth as possible (let's be real...in large part to impress funders), we delve deep and create raw, authentic, and truly lasting relationships with our students.  We are unapologetic in our approach: in order to best serve the unique individuals they are, we must get to know them and appreciate them individually.  By doing so, we earn the RIGHT to challenge them beyond their limits, both on and off that mat.  We can then help them create a plan for success specifically tailored to their unique story, personality, and dreams.  In doing so, we create a culture where each individual is cherished...no censors, no filters, no socially-constructed parameters that reduce human beings to mere metrics and data.

This takes time and energy, and may mean that we never serve 1000 kids annually.  However, what we yearn for...and what we're proving...is that this approach results in change of the most genuine, beautiful, and sustainable in nature.

Don't take my word for it though - check out a speech presented by one of our students to her college class a couple of weeks ago.  In it she describes the relationship between her and myself, and the tremendous impact it has had on her.  I can say with confidence that this is the story of all of our students in relation to all of our amazing, passionate instructors and volunteers.  I will also add that they have impacted and changed our lives just as deeply.  Thank you, Melanie, for changing mine.

Alan "Finfou" - Recovery after injury at the Worlds 2014

This year during the Worlds, there was a moment that let everyone present at the Walter Pyramid worried. At the middleweight semifinal match , Alan “Finfou”  faced Otávio Sousa and after an omoplata attempt followed by an arm-bar by Otávio, Alan couldn’t get up and couldn’t feel his leg. Taken by ambulance to the hospital, Alan is recovering well. Check it out his interview below: