Mental illness has a wide-reaching effect on the lives of those that have lived with and or around the millions of people diagnosed annually. Gratefully, various outreaches and supports groups selflessly work pushing their agenda to aid individuals dealing with inner struggles.
Aspiring to make a difference in raising awareness for mental health initiatives through the grappling arts, “Grapplers Against Violence” emerges unto the Jiu-jitsu apparel scene and comes in with a charitable cause, steering away from the entrepreneurial purists for financial gain. In many cases, philanthropic movements are motivated by a tragic event. For “Grapplers Against Violence” founders, Andrew and Brandon Beaulieu the brothers are no stranger to mental health issues. Mental health is a plagued stigma that has affected their family, which fuels their ambition of sharing their experience and assisting others going through their battle within.
“Mental health impacts our family in a big way, as well as many other families around the world,” said company co-founder Andrew Beaulieu. “Last month, November 17th, 2018, we lost our father to suicide. He makes the fourth in his immediate family to take their own life. He is our reason. As grapplers, we make ourselves vulnerable physically on the mats every day – and we feel that it is even more important to be willing to make ourselves vulnerable mentally. We want to share the message with the grappling community that it is important to talk about mental illness and to reach out for help. Speaking about your struggle, not being afraid to cry, and reaching out for help does not make you weak. We encourage it. It can save your life and the lives of the people you love.”
“Grapplers Against Violence” not only pushes their messages of empowerment through social media but also in the form of fashion appeal. The company’s first launching product is the “Grappling Against Violence” rash guard, available in long and short sleeve styles. Future releases from the Beaulieu brothers will be the “Grappling Against Violence” hat, shirt, sweater, and patches. The profits from the sold items will be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association, along with other Mental Health and Violence Prevention charity organizations. The company has received a positive reception and garnered many followers supporting and relating their story.
“The reception thus far has been great,” Andrew said. “I think that people can see that we have a higher purpose than just to sell apparel, and they appreciate that. Every time that we receive a message from people talking about their mental health and making themselves vulnerable emotionally we reach our goal.”
The feedback gives the “Grapplers Against Violence” creators more reason to press forward. Charity open mats, networking, and door-to-door advertising, the Beaulieus have an excellent strategy in expanding the business and pushing their message of awareness.
“We are in the middle of brainstorming for our event ‘Grapplers Against Violence: Rolling for a Reason’, for Spring 2019, where we will be inviting all jiu-jitsu clubs to our gym, Forca Training Centre in Cole Harbour, NS. ‘Rolling for a Reason’ will be an open roll event, with a little bit more of a focus on the social aspect of meeting new people, being open, and talking about how jiu-jitsu has impacted your life positively. We are also planning to have guest speakers from the jiu-jitsu community to talk about their personal experiences with mental health and the importance of being willing to speak about it. We would also like to have pamphlets available with local resources people can contact to get professional help.”
Fighting for a reason, fighting for a cause, fighting to save a life, those motives alone can provoke anyone’s desire to promote change in improving the community. Jiu-jitsu has made a profound impact on the lives of Andrew and Brandon Beaulieu in the midst of dealing with their struggles. The mats lessons and tragic event of their father’s death have thus transformed into a bountiful movement. In the brand’s progressive development, “Grapplers Against Violence” has created a platform for making a positive difference, reaching out to the masses letting those struggling know that they are not alone.