Harnessing the Power of Martial Arts to Empower Women
Lane Cove Taekwondo has joined more than 20 traditional martial arts clubs from Australia and the United States to throw their collective weight behind a unique project designed to empower women.
The Pink Belt Project provides women in need – particularly those healing from the trauma of domestic abuse and/or sexual assault – with a one year scholarship, allowing them to train for free at their local martial arts club. By removing the financial barrier to training, scholarship recipients will gain a unique combination of health and well-being benefits that go far beyond just self-defense. Scholarships are provided through a combination of crowd funding and martial arts instructors like Master Fabian Peters from Lane Cove Taekwondo who agree to sponsor a scholarship and cover expenses such as uniform, belts and membership fee on behalf of a selected scholarship recipient.
Lane Cove Taekwondo’s Master Fabian Peters says: “Domestic violence, trauma, poverty, social isolation, eating disorders and bullying all have the potential to leave a woman feeling disempowered. Taekwondo offers women confidence, empowerment, increased leadership potential, healing and community. It is not just an exercise – it is a sport. This scholarship offers the benefits of taekwondo to those women who need it most and we are very proud to be involved.”
West Pymble resident Nadine O’Regan is a member of Lane Cove Taekwondo, and is coordinating the Pink Belt Program. She says “Our club has a large proportion of female students and offers vulnerable women a supportive club community. After having children, I suffered severe post-natal depression, generalised anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Taekwondo was literally life saving for me and I will be grading for my black belt in December. I wanted to share the benefits of taekwondo with another woman and was very excited when Master Peters agreed to offer a scholarship. I am looking forward to supporting our recipient on her path to black belt.”
Pink Belt Project was started in 2018 by West Australian Black Belt mum Kristy Hitchens who discovered for herself when she started Taekwondo at age 40 how the style of training provided a unique combination of health and well-being benefits that went far beyond the expected lessons in self-defense. In addition Mrs Hitchens saw how the training helped a friend impacted by domestic violence so went on to research the phenomenon and develop a model that could encourage more women to participate by removing the financial barrier.
Pink Belt Project has received support from:
– Sydney 2000 Olympic Gold Medallist for Australia in Taekwondo Lauren Burns
– Three time Olympian and Taekwondo World Champion Carmen Marton
– 2018 Commonwealth Taekwondo Champion Kate McAdam
– Marvel Avengers stuntwoman Ky Furneaux
“I am grateful beyond words to have the support of such highly decorated national and international athletes for this project and only demonstrates just how much they both embrace the ancient tradition of martial arts, not just as a sport, but a way of life,” Mrs Hitchens said.
Five women across Australia completed 12-month scholarships in the project’s first year with another 20 commencing training under a Pink Belt Scholarship in 2020. Fundraising and a publicity campaign is now underway to help as many women as possible in 2021.