On Thursday, October 10, UFC middleweight Uriah Hall visited Memorial Middle School as part of the school’s partnership with After-School All-Stars of Tampa Bay.
The program offers two hours of homework assistance and fun-filled enrichment classes such as dance, music and sports, along with free healthy meals provided by Hillsborough County Public School System, the City of Tampa and the University of South Florida.
Hall could relate to the kids of Memorial Middle School, as he was the same age when he immigrated to Queens, New York from his native Jamaica.
Hall spoke to the kids about overcoming bullies, elevating their self-esteem, focusing on school and becoming the best version of themselves. After a brief Q&A about his career as a pro MMA athlete, Hall brought several kids on stage to teach self-defense tactics and show off some of his skills.
“I was bullied on a consist basis and I just remember feeling lonely and not having the right support system, so I resonate with the kids well,” Hall said. “I just wanted to kind of tell them that when I was their age I did get bullied because it’s common but I found an outlet and something that I was passionate about, which was video games, I learned from it and jumped from there.”
Teaching the kids some basic fundamentals of martial arts was a fun activity for both the kids and Hall. But what he hopes they took away most was how to navigate through the difficulties of being bullied and what mindset they should approach their lifestyle with.
“Today was a great experience. I got to talk to some kids and have fun with them. I taught them some really basically fundamentals for martial arts,” Hall said. “And I told them a little bit about my life’s story, a little bit of my journey and hopefully I gave them some insight of where they are at right now and how to go about that lifestyle.”
Program director of After-School All-Stars of Tampa Bay, Amy Harper, believes that the time that Hall spent with the kids was valuable in more ways than one and she hopes Hall motivated them going forward.
“His story really connected with the students,” Amy Harper, the program director for After-School All-Stars of Tampa Bay said. “Focusing and having a goal and working toward that goal. Also speaking about his struggle and his journey connected with them because they’re in that journey right now.”
For more information about the After-School All-Stars of Tampa Bay please click here.