The Portage Centre for adolescents in Saint-Malachie has been offering judo classes since 2014. Since then, more than 50 youth have discovered the martial art, which draws on physical abilities and moral values.
“Judo’s moral code is universal”
Diane Couture has introduced more than 1200 youth to judo since she started teaching the martial art in 1985. Today, she shares her skills with the young residents of the Portage Centre in Saint-Malachie. Diane believes judo’s moral code is universal: “judo is an educational tool as well as a means of passing on values […] the judoka must show that his adherence to the moral code stems from a desire to evolve as an individual, not from a feeling of obligation.”
Learning judo has extra meaning for the young residents of the Portage Centre as they strive to rediscover a healthy, positive lifestyle and break free from drugs. For Diane Couture, “When properly taught, judo helps youth develop appropriate responses to difficult emotional situations and behavioral contexts through a structured method of repetitive movements. Judo connects the body (actions), heart (emotions) and spirit (mentalization).”
“I’m happy to see the progress these young people are making. It’s important to me that they enjoy the benefits judo can bring to their personal life”.
Since the program was implemented at the Saint-Malachie Centre in 2014, the judo teacher has seen the young residents invest a lot of effort in the martial art. Some have even earned a yellow belt thanks to their commitment and perseverance. For the young residents of Portage centres, practicing judo is very much in keeping with the concept of the therapeutic community. It helps youth establish mutually supportive relationships in order to reach common goals on their path to sobriety.