It’s youth empowerment through wrestling.

Beat the Streets Chicago uses the sport to mentor and enrich young people’s lives.

Wednesday was their annual National Dual where over 300 youth athletes from around the country took to the mat.

Everyone at the competition walked away with something.

The stream’s Jamaica Ponder takes us to the Wintrust Sports Complex with more.

“It’s just not all about wrestling, it’s about building a bond with your teammates and your coaches. It’s something that every kid wants.”

Devontae Givens joined Beat the Streets this year.

“Going out there and wrestling someone new it’s just, it’s a new experience, new strength. So, it’s amazing,” he said.

He is one of over 2,500 other student wrestlers training and competing with Beat the Streets Chicago.

“It forced me to be uncomfortable”

Like Giancarla Gardno, who starts high school in the fall.

“To be comfortable being uncomfortable,” she said.

At this time last year…

“I was here. I didn’t speak to no one, not even to my teammates. I wouldn’t speak to no one. I was so scared.”.

But through the unique power of wrestling…

“Beat the streets changed the way I felt, the way I thought of myself, it changed everything. It changed my life,” Gardno said with tears in her eyes.

The organization’s philosophy combines strong, positive relationships between students and their coaches.

“This is like a second family, so every kid wants that type of love and that family structure, especially for the kids out there who don’t have a family at all,” Givens said.

Making the mat a second home…

“I feel comfortable here. I don’t feel like I’m judged or disrespected. My coaches really help me. And it’s not only one, it’s all of them,” Gardno said.

And giving everyone a chance to show what they’ve got.



Read the full story here.