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Jeffrey Whittingham is giving back to the city that inspired him, by giving free Brazilian jiu-jitsu lessons to underprivileged children. Courtesy;Whittingham
Jeffrey Whittingham is giving back to the city that inspired him, by giving free Brazilian jiu-jitsu lessons to underprivileged children. Courtesy;Whittingham

A Temple alum is giving back to the community with free Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lessons for kids

Growth.Love.Success is a new community program in Philly to help kids steer clear of violence in their neighborhoods and manage their emotions.

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Jeffrey Whittingham grew up in a dangerous neighborhood in Atlantic City and was always taught at a young age to go to college and be a better person.

“My mother always instilled in me that education is key in order to get out of the dangerous city. She constantly told me that violence is not the answer, which I always kept in my mind as I grew up” he said in a recent interview with AL DÍA News.

The Temple Alum, who was an accomplished football player, also discovered along the way how beneficial Brazilian jiu-jitsu can be for people, and even children who have a tough time dealing with their emotions. 

He’s taking that knowledge into a new, free Brazilian jiu-jitsu program for kids in Philadelphia called Growth.Love.Success.

He also believes that by getting kids out of the neighborhood, children won’t have to deal with the ongoing gun violence that occurs in the streets.

“I want young kids to be able to come in the establishment and escape whatever they’re going through in their lives. I want to help them see the light at the end of the tunnel if they’re having dark days,” Whittingham explained.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu doesn’t only benefit physical strength, the activity also helps with self-esteem, concentration, and can release endorphins that create a balanced and happy mood.

“This program will help children mentally, they will also be taught how to manage emotions and teach them to spread love and give back to the community,” he said.

Whittingham’s free program is aimed at children around the age of 11-18 years old.

“Children are having a hard time dealing with their emotions. It’s a stressful time for them, but I know that I can help them. I will help inspire them to go in a different direction than violence,” he said.

In the end, in addition to helping them through their anger and other emotions, Whittingham wants to also be an inspiration for the children considering he went through much of the same.

He’s ok starting small.

“I want to help as many children as I can, even if it is 2-5 kids... I want them to believe in themselves, and explain to them that an angry mind is a narrow mind,” he said.

Whittingham is also getting the help of his teammates that also believe swaying children away from gun violence is a crucial matter, and more citizens of Philadelphia should help spread awareness.

Classes are scheduled for Wednesdays, beginning on Jan.13, 2021 and will be held at Gracie Academy at 1231 Bainbridge Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.

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