Cancer touches nearly every family, and ignorance of cancer spreads fear as fast as the malignant cells themselves. The best way to combat fear is with knowledge, and the Pink Belt program aimed to arm the mind with a better awareness and understanding. This past year, the American Martial Arts Institute, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society, designed and implemented the Pink Belt Program to raise awareness regarding cancer in our community.
More than 125 children and adults earned their pink belts!
There were three methods to earn this unique rank.
First, children ages six to 17 could take a test, which was age specific. They could seek help from their parents, teachers, and family in answering the questions, and by completing and discussing the questions with their family, they became better informed. Parents were provided resources from the American Cancer Society, which helped them to answer the questions in a way they felt was appropriate for the age and needs of their child.
The second method was primarily for adults who could choose to become involved as a volunteer for one of the many events organized by the ACS.
The third method was to spread awareness independently through diverse options including writing an article for a work newsletter, handing out awareness literature, and others.
There was also an honorary pink belt for community organizations and businesses that got involved in the program, and a Public Service Announcement was filmed which aired throughout Central New York. Agencies who contacted the American Martial Arts Institute were provided with a free informational packet to assist them in implementing the program or collaborating on the children's tent for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.
First of Its Kind
This program is the first of its kind. Martial arts schools have done what so many other agencies have helped to do in the past—fund raise to make a donation to local or national agencies—through events such as kick-a-thons. This was the first program whose goal was to assist the core mission of cancer agencies, raising awareness. The Greater Mohawk Valley Area of the American Cancer Society, worked with Grandmaster Crandall to provide the resources and tests for the students, lists of all available events for volunteers, programs for local businesses such as 80% by 18, and more. Students who earned their pink belts shared what they have learned with their families. Knowledge is the key. Through communication and collaboration, together we can make a difference.
Students who earned their pink belt also received a custom made certificate to hang in their home or office. The belts were earned from May 1 through September 15. The program culminated in all active students who had earned their pink belts participating in a martial arts demonstration at during the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Sunday, October 15, 2017. Everyone wore their pink belts at this demonstration, which was donated by the American Martial Arts Institute to entertain everyone who participated in the walk.
Watch the pink belt kata mass demonstration
Watch a Batto-do demonstration from the event
Honorary Pink Belts
Local businesses and community agencies joined the fight! By partnering with the American Marital Arts Institute to support this program, many local agencies fulfilled the program's core mission - to raise awareness. Therefore, they earned Honorary Pink Belts and were presented with certificates recognizing their important contributions.
Some of these agencies supported the program by bringing it recognition, others helped to support the Children's Tent at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on October 15, 2017. This was the first year that the Children's Tent was held and it included animals from the Utica Zoo, a DJ, free food, Paw Patrol, games, and more. The tent was staffed by adult volunteers from the American Martial Arts Institute including professional doctors and educators.
Pink Belt Kata
Each month during the program a special class and ceremony night was held to recognize individuals who had earned their pink belts. At these classes the students learned the Pink Belt Kata. In traditional martial art systems such as the American Eagle Style, a kata is a series of moves to fight off multiple imaginary attackers, and it serves many essential roles for the individual student and school.
The pink belt kata's core concept was communication. Through communication we become more knowledgeable and we can pool our efforts to defeat cancer. The martial arts itself can serve as a universal language, creating common bonds among differing cultures. The kata incorporates American Sign Language, martial arts techniques, and verbal statements to communicate how together we can defeat cancer.
This kata was also filmed for the students to be able to practice. You can watch these reference videos to the left. The kata will was part of a massive group performance at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on October 15 at 11 am at the Children's Tent.
As traditional martial artists we believe that we have a responsibility to make a positive difference in the lives of our families, friends, and community. We are proud of our students and the pink belt program.
Honorary Pink Belt Recipients
WKTV - Katrina Smith and Alicia Dadario
Obernesser Media - Chuck Obernesser
American Cancer Society - Peter Cittadino and Robert Elinskas
Thermal Petroleum - Mark Spiridigloizzi
Brand It Imprints - Todd Martin
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