Good morning, everyone!
Many of you know that my wonderful bride, Dr. Stacia Kelly, and I love to work on initiatives which benefit children. We teach martial arts, anti-bullying, online bullying awareness, and other skills to children and parents alike. Over the past year, we’ve had the rare pleasure of teaming with like-minded martial arts instructors in an organization led by Master Instructor Tom Callos. The group is called The 100, or the New Way Network.
One of Tom’s challenges to the team is the concept of the UBBT: The Ultimate Black Belt Test. The UBBT is the course of action these instructors must undertake to truly personify the message Tom proposes to the team. Members of the UBBT must constantly study, refine their practices, enforce their beliefs, strengthen their resolve, and then take this message “out of the dojo and into the world.”
Stacia and I have engaged in a number of challenges, and we use the message of The 100 to structure our curriculum for our students, and to alter our attitudes toward others, including parents, peers, and those with a differing opinion on what “martial arts” means. Over the past several days, we had an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of our normal life, and to immerse ourselves in a very unconventional convention with Master Callos and other members of The 100. That opportunity came to us in the form of the UBBT 8 HERO Housing Project.
Hale County, Alabama is a community that struggles to meet the living standards enjoyed by many American cities. The population of approximately 2600 includes many folks who don’t enjoy the luxuries of television, internet, cell phones, text messages, social media, and eating out at restaurants a few nights a week. Their lives are far simpler. They don’t have the resources available to most middle Americans. More importantly, the children of this community lack resources to further their education and their ability to grow as leaders, educators, and examples to their peers.
Here’s where the HERO Housing Project comes in. HERO is the Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization. Led by Executive Director Pam Dorr, HERO has initiated efforts to rebuild Hale County, while increasing awareness of the many characters who have walked the streets of rural Alabama throughout history. Look up the history of Hale County, and names like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Booker T. Washington will fill the results.
The task of the UBBT team in 2011 was to assist in renovating and rebuilding the Martin Stewart School. Based on the Julius Rosenwald design, this school is intended to assist in bridging the education gap between the status quo and the many underprivileged students of Hale County. The following videos provide a very brief recap of the experiences we shared during our mission with the UBBT. For the full story, please contact HERO.
Orientation & Travel Day
UBBT Day 1
Day 3 Begins with Pad Drills
Day 3 Continues with Housing Work, a Tour of Previous Projects, & a wrap-up @ Pie Lab
Stacia and I were honored to be a part of this year’s Alabama Project, and the ongoing efforts and education we share with our fellow instructors. For more information, please visit HERO Housing and the UBBT.