Jackson Wink is synonymous with many of MMA’s elite athletes, but you may not be aware of the efforts the gym and their fighters are making outside the Octagon.
MMA has boomed from an underground culture into a truly global phenomenon, developing into an industry worth billions of dollars and with a passionate fanbase, but it’s fast becoming so much more.
Mixed martial arts is changing the lives of at risk children, and children with various physical and cognitive challenges.
Participating in combat sport training may not sound like the intuitive option for improving the lives of kids who face a variety of physical, cognitive, or environmental battles, but Jackson Wink and IncredAble Adaptive MMA are proving doubters wrong.
General Manager of Jackson Wink MMA Academy, Michael Lyubimov, told UNILAD:
We now have over 30 kids participating in the IncredAble Adaptive MMA Program, and it is growing rapidly.
We also have many different companies and organizations that are constantly contacting us, because they want to support our program.
We have seen a huge difference in these kids after they get involved in training Mixed Martial Arts, they get hooked on training, which gives them sense of accomplishment, direction, and well being.
Founder and CEO of IncredAble Adaptive, Heather Winkeljohn, knows first hand of the benefits the training can deliver.
Winklejohn, an in-home Development Therapist with over 15 years experience, has a 19-year-old daughter who suffered a stroke at birth causing severe damage to the left hemisphere of her brain.
After trying various forms of physical and speech therapies, Winklejohn found her daughter saw the most comprehensive therapy was provided by martial arts, and has since sought to offer the same development to other kids.
Winklejohn recalls in an informational video about the charity:
We did many therapies over the years; physical therapy, force therapy, speech therapy. But, really what we found was the best therapy for her, in terms of communication, in terms of motor-planning, using the body in different ways and getting stronger, the best therapy was martial arts.
The charity is further boosted by the wealth of talented coaches and fighters affiliated to Jackson Wink, with Lyubimov confirming coaching and fundraising has been supported by several of the UFC’s highest profile stars, including Holly Holm and Jon Jones.
Lyubimov told UNILAD:
We have many superstar fighters like Jon Jones, Diego Sanches, Michelle Waterson, Carlos Condit, and many other great fighters that help us take care of these kids.
Through a system of donations IncredAble Adaptive offer both group and individual classes. Lyubimov explained the most effective form of training on offer to students is through one-on-one training.
Working directly with one student benefits the coach as much as it does the pupil as in turn they learn more about specific conditions. As a result the training can be more specifically tailored, and this refinement will serve to benefit more participants in the future.
Many of our Pro and Amateur Athletes are participating in the program. We mostly do one-on-one sessions, with one of our athletes assigned to work with the student.
That way they get to know them closely, learn more about their disabilities, so they can adapt and tailor their training for that student.
So far it is working great, but we are always looking for support so we can keep IncredAble Adaptive MMA growing stronger.
Check out the IncredAble Adaptive website to learn more or donate.
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An NCTJ Journalist with an MA in Sports Journalism, Kieron is an experienced social media journalist who has worked in the industry since 2015. His experience includes work with ITN, the MEN, WISH/WIRE/TOWER FM, and 8:50 Sports Digest… not forgetting his time at ASDA.