Belfast Asian Women’s Academy

Flex and Fit Martial Arts Project

The Belfast Asian Women’s Academy run a range of programmes for Asian women in and around the South Belfast area.

They used a £4,850 National Lottery Awards for All grant to run a ten-week Flex and Fit Martial Arts project, which combined life skills with learning to help with personal and social development.

Before applying to us, Belfast Asian Women’s Academy talked to the women they work with and their families to find out what they wanted to achieve. This helped to shape their project idea.

Kalpana Chandran is the Chair and founder of the group. She told us: “Most of the mums are new to Belfast and came here as migrants to work. They are working through the week, so we hold our activities on a Saturday to meet their needs. The Flex and Fit martial arts programme helped break down isolation by bringing people together. It also improved their mental health and wellbeing. The women have been able to learn self-defence skills and life skills such as building confidence and being resilient.”

The project also involves children which allows family connections to flourish. One of the mums who took part in the project, Swetapadma Dhal, told us:

“The Fit and flex programme was beneficial for our children as well as us. We learnt a lot of defence techniques. It was good for health and mind and for social interactions. We met new people and had lots of fun.”

Chatting to families in their community has been key to understanding their needs.

It gave women the opportunity to say that they felt isolated and wanted active sessions to improve their fitness and to learn self-defence skills.

The conversations also highlighted the need to develop activity for women that included their children, to get them more physically active and to build and nurture family relationships.

The project has helped to build strong community relationships

What advice do Belfast Asian Women’s Academy have for groups considering applying to National Lottery Awards for All?

Chat to the people you are working with to develop and shape your idea. Chatting to families helped them to increase the number of families taking part as they held their classes on a day and at a time that suited everyone.

They also recommended that groups read the programme information on our website and get in touch with our team to seek advice and guidance if needed.

Children from Belfast Asian Women's Group celebrate