Integra MMA is a Partnership between Ryerson University, Trillium Lakelands District School Board, and Point in Time.
As a result of Walk a Mile training provided to mental health agency and board staff there was an opportunity to learn more about Integra MMA.
What is Integra MMA?
- A program developed by the Integra Foundation, a children’s mental health agency for children and youth with learning disabilities.
- The program combines mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, yoga and martial arts.
- Integra has been implementing and evaluating this program for over six years.
- Their findings show that the program increases participants self-regulation skills.
- Point in Time has been looking for an alternative way of serving youth in our community.
- Anecdotally we are aware that we have not been engaging as many male youth as females in our services.
- We thought MMA might have more appeal.
- The board also noted that self-regulation challenges are often barriers to school success.
- Ryerson University Professor Dr. Karen Milligan, who is the former Research Director for Integra was interested in helping us evaluate MMA in the school setting.
- Two groups of MMA were offered at HHSS.
- One started near the beginning of the school year and the other in the winter semester.
- This allowed us to compare how students were doing while in the group and with no program (control).
Self-Esteem Related to School
- Many students in MMA had a negative view of themselves about school, including academic abilities and behaviour.
- Program participation was related to significant gains in school related self-esteem.
- MMA Fall students made gains in self-esteem, whereas those who did not participate in the fall program remained constant.
- School-Related Self-Esteem Improves with Participation in MMA
“I find that during tests without knowing it I find myself doing a mindful moment before – as the test is being handed out. I don’t even think about it. I just open my eyes and realize what I did. After I realize I find that the information just starts coming to me when I need it. Last semester I failed almost every single one of my tests or was close to failing cause I had no idea what [the information was] when I needed it.”
“I used to have really low self-esteem cause I have been bullied since Grade 1…I have basically been made fun of left right and centre. Naturally my self-esteem has gone down a lot. My self-esteem has increased extremely [since being in MMA].”
“I found that I am actually becoming more popular because of some of the friends I made in MMA. The people in my MMA some of them are high up on the popularity. Now that they actually respect me I found that they are helping me out. They are trying to involve me in different stuff cause I am normally just walking the halls by myself. They call me over and talk and I have made a bunch of new friends from their groups.”
“I got a lot more comfortable in the school environment. When I first got here it was kind of scary. New people and people are not very welcoming sometimes. Now it is like school is like my second home. I have good people around me. Caring and respectful people.”
“I could see him gaining confidence as he went through the program.”
“I have that same student now (after MMA) and he will initiate and find a partner.”
“She is less social in class but probably more content. She used to be anxious to fit in, not always appropriate and now she is not withdrawn but she has decided where she wants to be and who she wants to be with does her work and cooperates and in her own quiet space.”
“He felt better about himself and he was ok that he was not exactly like everyone else. He sat at the front of the class and talked to me and not his peers. As the course went on he postured towards the class. There was more engagement. He initiated once but he was more open posture wise to find a partner.”
- More confident
- More courage
- Friendship/ increased engagement with peers
- Improved health, weight loss
- Improved attendance and grades (student report)
- Not just going along with others or what other’s think – doing things for yourself
- Don’t like going to school still but motivated to get to school on MMA days
- MMA was a good break from the regular school academics (that can be hard)
- Really enjoyed the program
- Would recommend to a friend
- Better ability to control anger
- Good for kids with low self-esteem, disengaged from school, high anxiety
- Better ability to focus and to stop and think
- Fewer fights, get into trouble less