Bullying is nothing new. But a pilot program in Prairie Village designed to help give adolescents the confidence to stand up to it is.
When local esthetician Holly Reynolds heard about the suicide last fall of 14-year-old New Yorker Jamey Rodemeyer — who killed himself after being bullied online about his sexuality — she felt compelled to action. After all, Reynolds had experienced bullying during her youth, and knew how painful the experience can be.
“It was kind of like the last straw for me,” she said. “I wanted to think of ways for these kids to let out that anger and sadness.”
Her answer: Fight Club, an advocacy program for bullied youth. Reynolds partnered with Title Boxing Club at 76th and State Line to offer a weekly program that combines exercise (boxing, specifically) and life coaching. Title donated space for the program, and the trainer that Reynolds worked with at Title, Ronell “Bigg Ron” Jones, donated his time. Since the program began a month ago, they’ve seen around 15 kids per week come in for the nearly two-hour sessions.
Reynolds stresses that the boxing isn’t being taught as a means of self-defense — and definitely not as a form of aggression. Instead, it serves as a way to let kids blow off pent up steam.
“And we know that boxing won’t be it for all these kids,” she said. “That’s why we’re looking into programs that use art therapy and yoga as well.”
Though the classes are currently full enough that they aren’t seeking additional participants for the pilot program, which ends in March, Reynolds says that in the coming months, she hopes to secure the funding to make Fight Club permanent.
“This can be a real confidence builder for kids,” she said. “They learn how to find the answers they’re looking for within themselves.”