Carmen, along with Sydney’s 2017 Commonwealth champion Kate McAdam, is fronting a campaign to empower women suffering from the past trauma of domestic violence through the healing power of Taekwondo.
Pink Belt Project delivers scholarships covering one year of free Taekwondo training to women in need.
Launched last year, there are currently eight women across Australia training at their local Taekwondo club at no cost, with their scholarship funds covering class fees, uniform, equipment, grading exams and membership fees. Each scholarship is worth $2,000.
“This is a project designed and driven by women, for women,” Carmen said.
“It is about allowing women in need to rebuild themselves and their lives in an environment that centres around empowerment, personal development, respect, achievement through perseverance, deep camaraderie and above all else, kindness.”
Pink Belt Project was launched last year by Western Australian Taekwondo mum Kristy Hitchens, who blogs about her often comical adventures as a middle-aged martial artist under pseudonym The Mortal Mouse.
Her idea was inspired by a friend forced to quit Taekwondo after escaping a violent marriage that left her deeply traumatised and barely able to support herself financially.
Peak sports body Australian Taekwondo was quick to jump behind the concept, helping spread word of the project through its national connections. When approached by Kristy to help build the profile of the project and assist with fundraising, Carmen and Kate didn’t hesitate to get on board.
“I am grateful beyond words to have the support of such highly decorated national athletes for this project and only demonstrates just how much they both embrace the ancient tradition of our martial art, not just as a sport, but a way of life,” Kristy said.
Scholarships are achieved through a combination of a crowdfunding campaign (now on), sponsorship and Taekwondo clubs offering their own matched scholarships.
“This time last year I had given up on life. I felt that my life was no longer my own and I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt joy,” Nicole* said.
“But here I am! Arriving at another training session, in my second month and loving it. I feel strong and empowered.
“I feel more confident; and have found a little piece of joy, in one hour a day, twice a week. And it’s mine.
“When my scholarship period ends, I hope to continue on, and aim towards that seemingly elusive black belt. Everyone looks good in black, right?”
A three month fundraising campaign for Pink Belt Scholarships to be undertaken in 2020 is now underway. You can donate at chuffed.org/project/pinkbelt
*Name changed to protect identity