At Fight for Peace, our Five Pillars shape what we do and how we do it. Boxing and martial arts and the array of skills that it helps build in us is a huge part of this approach, but we believe that when we integrate sport with education, leadership, employment and support programmes the real transformational change happens.

In this way, young people at Fight for Peace have the opportunity to build a vast range of professional and personal skills that can support them to reach their full potential, in whatever field that may be. 

Personal Development underpins our whole approach and includes regular and occasional sessions covering a range of topics and soft skills of use to young people, such as cultural identity, goal setting, sexual health, setting up your own business, and conflict resolution.

Our personal development sessions are a great way for young people to have access to a safe space where they can learn, discuss, challenge, and listen to one another without fear of being judged or being seen differently because of their views and opinions.

Lutadoras, which translates to female fighters in Portuguese, is a weekly all-female personal development group which is open to young women aged between 7 and 25 – run by our Lutadoras Coordinator, Katie, and Mentoring Lead, Maria.

We want Fight for Peace to be a home for as many young women as possible, so that  they develop their talents, interests and strengths, beat the challenges they face, and benefit from the resilience and fitness gained from boxing and martial arts. 

This is a valuable space that places emphasis on building confidence, self-knowing, exploring the power of being female, and much, much more. It’s fair to say that Lutadoras can encourage young women to try something new and step out of their comfort zones. Weekly themes vary from discussions around race and class, projects around mental health and periods, as well as the odd birthday celebration with lots of cake. 

Lutadoras sessions begin with each member of the group checking in on how they are feeling that week, which is a great team-building moment for the group, and important for maintaining our mental health. 

These support services extend beyond the classroom where the sessions take place, as the Lutadoras (and staff) can always come away having learnt something about themselves, their peers, or the world. To know that every week the Lutadoras space is open to all young women as a space for empowerment is something we pride ourselves on.

We also have a Personal Development session called Man Talk, led by Youth Worker Michael and our Youth Leadership Coordinator Leo. Man Talk provides a space for young men at Fight for Peace to come together to discuss issues that affect us all, to learn and gain new perspectives from one another, and gain deeper personal understanding of what being a man is in our society.

It’s a place for young men to literally break bread together on a Wednesday afternoon, the sharing of a meal always being a centrepiece of the group. Topics on the table are put forward by those in the group and range from relationships, masculinity to finance and health.

In a recent session, the group discussed the experience of being overwhelmed, of what this means to each of us, where it can lead us and the different strategies that we can use to deal with it. The discussion touched on mental health and different perspectives on depression with the group sharing experiences and views. 

The environment at Man Talk and Lutadoras is such that everyone is free and encouraged to express their view and thoughts without fear of judgement, creating an ideal space for learning and growth.

And these services extend beyond the room where the sessions take place, as the young people (and staff) always come away having learnt something about themselves, their peers, or the world. 

Lutadoras takes place every Thursday at 5pm, while Man Talk happens on Wednesdays at 5pm. Both groups are open to anyone from Fight for Peace that wants to join and we are always looking to welcome new members!

Header image by Lily

Instagram: @99cliqs

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