At Active Essex, our aim is always to support people in Essex to live happy and healthy lives by finding the activity that is right for them, and supporting those who can help them find it. We believe there should be no barriers to enjoying physical activity, which is why we work with amazing groups like Maru Karate Kai.
Maru Karate Kai delivers karate lessons and training to young people aged 11-18 in the Basildon area. Working with schools and local community groups, they identify disadvantaged kids who would love to take part, and subsidise their lessons to make sure they’re able to.
Run by Marc Grayston, who has 28 years of experience with the sport, Maru Karate Kai aims to provide a fun and challenging way to get more kids active. Marc said: “We want to improve the take up of physical activity in the community, promote an active lifestyle and work to create opportunities for young people.”
The disciplines and techniques taught in the sessions benefit not only the physical health of the people taking part, but many other aspects of their lives, too. At Maru Karate Kai, the sessions aim to benefit all who are involved; whether a black belt, a volunteer or a parent. Marc said: “We are always hoping to achieve improved physical fitness, improved self confidence and mental health, and a greater sense of pride in the community for those taking part.”
Marc and the team work to ensure that keeping sessions welcoming and accessible is their top priority. Money should not be a barrier to living a healthy life, especially so when young people are involved. Everyone deserves a chance, and the stigma around economic hardships is something that Maru Karate Kai are tackling on and off the mat. Marc said: “Our barrier will always be the stigma of delivering projects for financially disadvantaged people without having a light shone on this fact. We continue to ensure that communication around finances is kept away from the class environment, and that communication is delivered electronically and away from the children.”
The pandemic that we’ve all had to recently endure has seen hardships for many people in our community – financial hardships, impacts on physical and mental health and lack of social interaction to name a few. And the same could be said for small businesses like Maru Karate Kai, who have found coping with the demand of new participants after lockdown a challenge in the space they had available to them. But necessity breeds invention, and new relationships with local hotels and businesses have been formed to help address this issue. Marc said: “We have worked with some unexpected venues, such as a local hotel which helped us deliver sessions. The relationship we now have with the hotel could potentially lead to some volunteering opportunities for the future.”
Our values at Active Essex strongly align with those at Maru Karate Kai, and working with each other to deliver fantastic and engaging sessions to young people has been a real privilege for all parties involved. Marc said: “Maru Karate Kai and Active Essex have worked together for many years, with Active Essex providing guidance, information, funding and support to help us achieve our goals. They are our ‘go-to’ provider for governance support in all matters, and they make Essex a much better place to deliver physical activity projects.”
It’s people like Marc and the team at Maru Karate Kai, who make us feel proud of the services and support we aim to deliver, here at Active Essex. Our Find Your Active fund is dedicated to helping groups and organisations to develop their sessions and services, to provide even more opportunities for Essex residents to get active. And helping people to find their active is made a lot easier when such brilliant advocates, like Marc, are here to help. If you or someone you care about would like to find out more about Maru Karate Kai, you can check out their Twitter page. And for more information about our Find Your Active campaign, and for new ways to get active in your local area, check out our website. Your activity is out there, waiting for you!