David O’Brien kicks through a board held by Graeme Campbell during the Breaking Boards, Breaking Chains fundraiser at N60 Combative Arts in Whitehorse on April 28. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Whitehorse Breaking Boards, Breaking Chains event raises money to combat slavery

‘I think it’s some good life lessons’

More than a dozen of the Yukon’s up-and-coming martial artists took part in a board-breaking fundraiser at N60 Combative Arts in Whitehorse on April 28.

Breaking Boards, Breaking Chains is a fundraiser run by Martial Arts for Justice to support the work of International Justice Mission in freeing victims of modern-day slavery worldwide.

N60’s Graeme Campbell said 11 participants broke boards during the event and two more are set to take part once they return from vacation.

“We’ve had 11 kids including parents and grandparents,” said Campbell. “The whole family has been involved.”

Money raised this year is going to Kolkata, where a team from International Justice Mission is already in place.

“They do investigations, they do rescues and they work with local governments to save kids and adults in the sex trade or slave trade,” said Campbell.

Taking part in the event was a last-minute decision but is part of a larger effort to make the gym more social, according to Campbell.

“We signed up to do this on really short notice, so this year has been a little bit disorganized,” said Campbell. “We were offered an extension to do it next week, but the boards were here and stuff so we just did it anyway.”

Despite the short notice, Campbell said he’s expecting total donations to be close to $1,500 once all the money is collected.

“I think we’re looking at $1,500 if everybody gets what they’re telling me they’ll get, which is awesome especially at three weeks notice. That’s phenomenal,” said Campbell.

The fundraiser has given those taking part a lot to think about.

“I think it’s some good life lessons,” said Campbell. “Some of the kids are a bit older and they understand the concept of slavery in general. Some of the kids are too young for that but they just think it’s cool to break the boards. They enjoy running door-to-door collecting some money, coming in and smashing some board. But for the older ones, they certainly learn a lot about life.”

Campbell said he doesn’t go into detail — he leaves it to parents to explain what they feel is appropriate — but said it has brought about some good “mat chats,” discussions about topics beyond martial arts.

“The kids ask questions when they’re sitting on the mat and they can think about things. ‘Kids helping kids’ is a key phrase that we use.”

The plan is to continue to work with Martial Arts of Justice in the future, so Campbell is expecting next year’s event to be bigger.

“With a year’s notice, we’re really going to develop this into something special,” said Campbell. “Next year we’ll have some demo teams doing demonstrations and some weapon work. It should be fun.”

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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