At just 16 years old, Reclink participant Holly exudes a wisdom that belies her youth.
Holly is matter of fact when she describes the trauma she has experienced as a victim of bullying, and she is mature in her reflections on the tough life decisions she has had to make after some violent incidents.
“Over the last year I stopped hanging around people who weren’t really my friends, and instead I focused on myself. It was hard at first, but I needed to be on my own. I’m grateful it happened at a young age.”
Holly is a student at FAME, a South Australian school that caters for students struggling with mainstream education, through which Reclink collaborates to run a targeted sport and recreation program that aims to give students a sense of worth through new opportunities.
Reclink saw the potential for boxing fitness for the FAME students and created a youth boxing program in collaboration with Morphett Vale Boxing Club.
Holly says since trying boxing through the Reclink program, she was hooked. She says boxing has opened a door for her to channel her anger into an incredibly positive force and the boxing has been instrumental in helping her to turn her life around.
“I wanted to do boxing for a long time, so when Reclink offered it through school, I was so excited. Before I started boxing, I used to have a different lifestyle. But boxing has given me a lot of confidence and got me out of my comfort zone. That didn’t come overnight,” Holly said.
Holly's teacher, Adam James, agrees that the Reclink program has been life-changing for his student.
"Reclink has provided Holly with a safe and stable platform to try new things, take risks and has enabled her to set goals that will have a positive impact on her life,” Mr James said.
“Because of this, there has been a notable increase in Holly’s self-esteem which has allowed her to gain a better understanding of what she is able to achieve and also her abilities as a leader, mentor and cheerleader for other young people.”
Reclink’s Acting Sport and Recreation Manager of South Australia, Angie Mitchell, says the outcome of Reclink’s program at the FAME school has had long-lasting impacts on a range of students, including Holly.
“Holly first came into our program very disengaged, having been the victim of a lot of bullying and much more,” Ms Mitchell said.
“The role Reclink has played is crucial in helping her become this next best version of herself. Her teachers tell me she is coming to school more regulated, in control and is changing her lifestyle to suit her training. She has been through so much; she is going through a lot and still comes to Reclink programs every week and is consistently training with the club.”
Holly trains five nights a week at the Morphett Vale Boxing Club, which sponsors her, and Holly says the training has significantly improved both her physical and mental health. She is one of two young participants from the Reclink program who have joined the club’s amateur junior fight team to take their journey to the next level.
Holly says the boxing program has given her the opportunity to make new friends – the types of friends she says she needed ‘ages ago’. More importantly, she says the Reclink program has changed her outlook on life.
“The weekly Reclink program at school is so much fun. And the boxing makes me focus on my fitness and gets my mind off things. Fitness takes a lot of discipline. I’ve had self-doubt. But it’s all in my mind, and now I’m trusting myself to do it. I’ve levelled up, this journey has matured me a lot. My circle has grown, and I have got such good support.”
Now, the future looks very bright for this 16-year-old. Holly is excited and confident that she is now one step closer to her goal of her first fight in the ring in a competitive league.
“Looking back to when I first started, I wouldn’t have expected this. I should give myself a lot of credit because I have come so far. I want to stay boxing and see how far I can get, keep pushing myself and not having expectations. Who knows how far I’ll get!”
The Reclink program is funded through Sydney Myer. In South Australia from July 2021 - Jan 2023, Reclink reached 3907 participants and 2591 were under the age of 25, with programs aimed at increasing physical health, mental health and social inclusion.
Written by Callista Cooper