Mentoring Juniors Kids Organization
Our Impact Why We Exist
Since 2009, MJKO has been providing FREE extra-curricular activities to youth living in marginalized areas of Ontario. MJKO gets kids moving, thinking about healthy food choices, boosting their self-esteem and helping them understand the value of volunteerism through non-contact boxing. Of the 6,500 youth that MJKO has provided programming to, approximately 90% live below the Canadian poverty line with 60% from single parent homes on a fixed income. Many kids come from Toronto’s toughest neighborhoods and are faced with gangs, bullying and poverty. For most MJKO students, English is not their first language. Despite these challenges, MJKO programs have allowed students to build their self-confidence and gain a love for physical fitness.
Vital Signs reports that: "Visible minorities are poorly represented in leadership in some sectors: although visible minorities reflect more than 40% of Toronto’s population." At MJKO we want to help boost leadership within these groups.
Below is writen by an MJKO Youth Community Champion who took part in our Round II - Take the Lead progam. In this program 15 youth acquired 3 certifications: FUNdamentals Sports Movements, Boxing Ontario Level One Coaching and CPR/First aid. After their in-class training they went on to host one Neighbourhood Games with the support of MJKO Coaches and Mentors.
"I am very thankful to Jimmy and all the other coaches that supported me at my Playing for Keeps event. Jimmy (my mentor) was the biggest reason this event came alive. Although I had my plan and the activities, he always added something to captivate the participants. Some of the activities were impossible to accomplish without all the coaches help. Jimmy and Kelly were the key to making this event fun. Without them, I would have been so nervous and my event would be very dull. They helped not just me, but all the participants. They motivated and inspired everyone. I believe everyone liked my event because it was full of energy, excitement, and surprises. I had different teams and stations. At the end of the event I had several questions that I later gave a quiz. It felt great giving away several prizes. The activities were intense and everyone was tired by the end of the two hours. We had snacks and juices to refresh everyone. Before everyone left, we gave each participant a high-five. Everyone looked very happy. I was proud of myself for completing the class."
Apoorva, Regent Park Resident, 17 Years Old
Our Story What We Do
MJKO is a volunteer-centered organization founded by me, Miranda Kamal, and my husband, Ibrahim Kamal. I took up the sport of non-contact boxing as a part of my healing process following a sexual assault at age 16. Boxinghelped me feel safe. Later in life I entered the ring as a competitive boxer before sustaining a serious spine injury that was not boxing related. Unable to box again I decided to use everything I learned to give back to the community. My husband Ibrahim is an 8X Canadian National Boxing Champion who knows firsthand how boxing can shape the life of a youngperson. Growing up in Libya he was the victim of daily bullying due to his light complexion. At age 11, he moved back to Canada residing at Teesdale Place where he took up boxing full time. Over the next 18 years he went on to represent Canada in over 20 counties. Ibrahim is a testament to the benefits of sports training and the opportunities it can offer outside the ring.
MJKO keeps youth active through the delivery of the Blueprint Program; a multifaceted curriculum which focuses on keeping youth off the streets and teaching them the lifetime benefits of physical fitness. Since our founding in 2010 MJKO has managed successfully the following programs and partnerships:
- Toronto Police 14 Division (TPS14): since 2010 officers have committed to having weekly participation in MJKO’s programs.
- Ontario Trillium Foundation 2014 "I’M A CHAMP":This program promoted physical activity for personal betterment.
- Toronto Foundation Vital Youth 2014 "Take the Lead": MJKO participants acquired 3 certifications: FUNdamentals Sports Movements, Boxing Ontario Level One Coaching and CPR/First aid.
- Physical and Health Education Canada "We Belong 2015":this program focused on physical activity as a means of welcoming newcomer youth.
- Toronto Foundation: Playing for Keeps (P4K) Hub: By having play-centric program, P4K is connecting communities.
- Toronto Foundation Vital People 2015: This grant supported Miranda Kamal’s professional development through the completion of the National Coaching Certification Program Level 3 (National Level), Introduction to American Sign Language and Mental Health training for professionals working with youth.
- Toronto Foundation Vital Youth 2015/2016 "Take the Lead Round II": this program provided further training for 15 Youth who went on to host 15 Playing for Keeps Neighbourhood games to over 500 participants.
- Ontario Sports and Recreation Fund 2015/2016 "Blueprint":This program promotes physical activity and physical literacy.
Our success stories have been documented on CBC Metro Morning; As It Happens; CBC Sports; Global News, “Making a Difference”; and, Global TV "Walk the Walk" Documentary. Inspiring articles about MJKO and its programming have been featured in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and the Good News Toronto. We are so thankful for the support of the media. They have been in our corner since 2010 helping to share our stories. We have had two MJKO members Randy Phipps (Board Member) and Kelly Korkola (Volunteer) recogized as top Toronto volunteers. Both won a Volunteer Toronto Legacy Award.
Our Programs How We Do It
The Blueprint Program addresses these youth-specific problems with a unique interactive, skill-building program, focusing on five basic components including Physical Activity, Social Skills Development, Mental Skills Training, Nutrition and Commitment to Community Involvement. Our program revolves around the sport of non-contact boxing – which means that MJKO focuses on the skills that boxing teaches, and incorporates exercises such as skipping, shadow-boxing, calisthenics, mental skills training, etc. that are required to succeed as a boxer without any physical contact with an opponent.
We always focus beyond the physical benefits of boxing, and onto educational benefits as well. Math is an important tool for understanding boxing. We talk about weight conversion, statistical percentages and currency conversion for athletes who may travel abroad. Language is also big learning resource at MJKO. Since our students bring with them an array of language skills, we encourage peer-teaching and exchange phrases like: hello, thank you, good game, how are you?
The Blueprint program works hard to reward leadership and commitment to community. Our students, who become Community Champions, are rewarded with opportunities to various sports, arts and cultural events including: plays, musicals, sporting events and trips to the museum.
Working with our Provincial sport body Boxing Ontario, our coach’s focus on the real life application of skills acquired through focused athletic training (non-contact boxing). The Blueprint program focuses on FUNdamentals, Learning to Train and Active for Life stages of the Long Term Athlete Development Plan.
We give participants the skills needed to fight back against the harsh realities for Ontarian children including childhood obesity, bullying, poverty and the temptation to join a gang.
What You Can Do
MJKO IS A VOLUNTEER-RUN ORGANIZATION
At MJKO, we look to attract volunteers that will compliment one another’s skills and supply our staff, program volunteers with the expertise needed to guide a successful not-for-profit organization. We have both skills based and event based volunteer positions.
We are in dire need for volunteers who are at least sixteen years old to help sell 50/50 tickets at local sports games. The commitment is usually once a week for 5 hours.
For information about volunteering please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The MJKO Champion Centre recently opened in November 2015 in Parkdale, allowing even more Champions-in-Training to benefit from MJKO programs each day. The Centre provides stability for over 170 students in a safe, inclusive space. MJKO is proud to be the leader in offering for regularly scheduled free fitness and leadership classes for youth under 18 years old. We want to continue the growth of this program – but we need your help to ensure that our students can keep training without economic barriers!
We are asking you, as a loyal MJKO supporter, to consider joining our new monthly donor program known as the Butterfly Campaign. For a donation of $25 per month you would be supporting one Champion-in-Training; ensuring their access to free fitness and mentorship programming at the Centre.
The Butterfly Campaign is beyond an investment into the infrastructure housing our programs. Instead, each contribution is an investment into the healthy long-term development of an MJKO athlete who deserves to be in the gym, rather than on the streets.
Our promise to you is to act with transparency and accountability at all times. To always work in the best interest of our Champions in training and to have strong financial controls to ensure the money we collect serves the world’s most vulnerable children.
Your donation will make a difference for a student just like 15 year old Annika: “Boxing is my life. It's the only thing in my life that brings a true smile on my face. The first time I went there I was so scared that I was going to get bullied BUT I didn't. I loved that class. The leadership training has been great. I know now that when someone needs help, I know First Aid and CPR. This training course showed me ways to eat better and new ways to workout effectively without hurting myself. MJKO is the best thing that ever happened to me. I will do anything and everything for boxing even when it gets hard. I will never give up."
If you are interested in ensuring students like Annika have access to the fitness and mentorship resources that MJKO provides, please visit www.mjko.ca and complete the donate monthly option. Alternatively, please send your generous donations via post-dated cheques addressed “MJKO” at 21 Grand Magazine St. Unit 811, Toronto, Ontario M5V 1B5
I would like to thank you in advance for considering becoming a part of this new and important initiative. Together we can create a Champion Centre that allows for students across the GTA to train, prepare and believe in a better future!