Fighting for: Natalia
Today we share the story of another one of the thousands of young people we fight for every year – and how Empire Fighting Chance has transformed their life. Meet Natalia*.
Natalia was referred to Empire Fighting Chance last year by a member of the Empire team who had noticed her struggling in a Box Juniors session.
Following a very difficult childhood in which she ended up in foster care, Natalia was experiencing depression, anxiety, violent behaviour, and self-harm, and had been excluded from school.
Natalia struggles to stay focused and listen to instructions in busy environments. During Box Juniors sessions, she would not listen to the coach, choosing instead to swing on punch bags and run around the basketball court. However, one of our coaches recognised that she was visibly distressed in busy sessions, and believed that Natalia could benefit from structured, one-to-one Box Champions sessions with Coach Serena.
THE EMPIRE IMPACT
During her first couple of sessions, Natalia was closed off and chose not to speak to any other coaches and actively ignored anyone who tried to speak to her. As she began to grow more comfortable in the Empire gym environment, she opened up with Coach Serena and even spoke to other staff members with whom she had less of a relationship. Natalia soon became confident enough to speak to Serena about her former life with her biological parents and her childhood.
When it came to boxing, Natalia displayed little interest in the sport. Instead of putting on gloves and getting on the pads, she would lie on the floor, throw equipment around, and would not want to engage for the entire session. As the weeks progressed, Natalia’s attitude changed, and she became better able to maintain her focus throughout sessions. Now, she has learnt how to do combinations on the pads and remains focused in most sessions.
At first, Natalia struggled to train in the large gym with loud noises, such as the boxing bell and other young people’s sessions. These loud noises would often overstimulate her, causing her to lose focus. As her time at Empire progressed, Natalia began to get more comfortable in these environments and more able to regulate her emotions in these situations. She is now able to complete full sessions in the large gym with the bell going off regularly with no effect on her concentration.
Since starting Box Champions, Natalia has started going to a specialist school which can cater more adequately to her needs.
Although Natalia still faces many challenges, the progress she made during the 20-week programme had a lasting impact on her ability to regulate her emotions and open up about what she struggles with.
Natalia’s foster mum says, “The relationship she has with Serena is exceptionally good, she feels comfortable with her, and happy to come along weekly.
“Over the last few weeks there has been a very positive change in Natalia, she has started to talk and become more engaged with people something she hasn't done before. Natalia is growing in confidence each week.”
THIS IS OUR FIGHT.
To learn more about Box Champions, click here.
To refer a young person to Empire Fighting Chance, email [email protected]
*Name changed to protect identity. Image used for illustrative purposes only and not connected to story.