INTERVIEW: Richmond Hill students win national community choice award

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 3:10 PM EDT|Updated: May. 16, 2023 at 3:40 PM EDT
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RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) - Students from Richmond Hill just won an award for their device designed to help those with PTSD sleep better.

WTOC spoke with two of the students right after the announcement.

It’s a program that was certainly a big hit with teens last year.

“It helps you if you’re having a bad day just get your mind off everything.”

16-year-old Angelina Grant has been training here for the past four years.

“I had never really trained for a sport before until this. So, when I first came, I was definitely nervous,” Grant said.

But those nerves would quickly fade.

“Once you get on the mat, really, anything you’re thinking about just kind of goes away. You’re just really into your training and not thinking about any of the problems you may have in your life right now. It just kind of goes away,” Grant says.

It’s success stories like Angelina’s that encouraged Pooler Karate and Krav Maga owner Carson Fortner to let teens train free over the summer last year…. that’s right…completely free.

“The thing that people don’t understand is, no strings attached whatsoever. People say, ‘what are you getting back for this?’ Community helping the community that’s what we’re getting out of this,” Fortner said.

After seeing how well the free program went for teens Carson got another idea.

“I actually had someone hit me up and say, ‘hey, you should do the same things for teachers. They’re stressed they’ve been working hard all year long,’” Carson said.

Opening it up to all teachers private, public, even home school teachers like Jessica English.

“It’s really been the best therapy.”

Which admittedly came as a surprise.

“I never thought I’d do jiujitsu, never. I’m kind of like a bookworm, a reader, a writer. It was very much out of my comfort zone,” English said.

But like Angelina, Jessica found a new home and this teacher became the student.

“Oh, you learn a lot. You learn a lot about yourself. You learn how to defend yourself, it’s applicable real-world stuff too.”

A chance to learn, grow,

“Take out some frustrations maybe beat on a pad a little bit.”

And maybe even find a new home.

“If you’re looking for a place to belong, for your child to belong, that’s here.”