MJKO is a youth charity with our center of operations in South Parkdale, Toronto. We use leadership training to promote positive, healthy lifestyle choices for children and youth. With certified coaches, MJKO builds Community Champions by focusing on the needs of the whole person through two streams: non-contact (recreational), and contact boxing (competitive), which includes physical training (skipping, shadow boxing, defensive moves) and mental skills training (visualization and meditation). Our programs allow students to develop an appreciation for physical fitness, inclusive communities, mindfulness, healthy eating, and volunteerism.
MJKO is a not-for-profit community-based charity that has operated since 2010 with a full-time executive director, committed staff, an experienced board of directors, and several long-term program volunteers giving them the governance and capacity to carry out large-scale, funded projects.
Ibrahim and Miranda Kamal co-founded MJKO to share the life skills they learned through boxing. Miranda is a survivor of sexual assault as a teen who rediscovered her strength as a competitive boxer before hanging up the gloves and becoming one of Canada’s most qualified boxing coaches. Ibrahim grew up in one of Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods. He became an eight-time Canadian National Boxing Champion, a professional boxer, an Ontario Boxing Hall of Fame Inductee, and one of Canada’s top coaches. Miranda and Ibrahim are Chartered Professional Coaches with Coaches Canada and know firsthand how sports can change one’s life for the better.
For more than a decade, our programs have been designed to prioritize the well-being of our participants. We follow a sequence called the Hierarchy of Needs, which has five essential components: physiological needs, safety, love and belonging, self-esteem and confidence, and self-actualization. Through sports leadership training, we aim to build Community Champions.
Our coaches are members of the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) and have been trained by Dr. Cathy van Ingen in Truman-Informed Coaching practices.
MJKO is mandated:
1. To educate youths by providing mentoring and leadership training programs.
2. To educate youths on the benefits of physical activity and healthy food choices.
3. To train police officers, students, and community volunteers on the importance of community involvement in marginalized communities.
1. All things are possible with training, preparation and belief (confidence);
2. Everyone has a duty to maintain and improve their community.
3. All children and youth should have access to high-quality, free fitness-based programming.
4. Physical fitness is a cornerstone for a healthy, happy and balanced life.
5. Positive relationships among people are the foundation of life.
MJKO has a proven track record of uniting individuals from a variety of backgrounds through non-contact boxing. We prioritize training our staff and volunteers to promote a culture of inclusivity, love, health, and success for everyone, regardless of their differences and experiences.
Mentoring Juniors Kids Organization (MJKO) was co-founded by Ibrahim and Miranda Kamal. As a survivor of sexual assault at 16, Miranda took up the sport of boxing as part of her healing process. Later in life, she entered the ring as a competitive boxer before sustaining a serious spine injury that was not boxing related. Unable to box again, Kamal decided to use everything she had learned to give back to the community.
Together with Ibrahim Kamal, an eight time National Boxing Champion, they created the Toronto based charity, MJKO with the core principals of Train, Prepare, and Believe! Ibrahim grew up in one of Toronto’s priority neighborhoods and knows firsthand how sport can change one’s life for the better. He has represented Canada in over 20 countries boxing.
Since 2010, MJKO has operated as a volunteer-run organization under Miranda’s leadership, providing free fitness and leadership classes to thousands of young people across Toronto.
MJKO serves Toronto’s most vulnerable youth. The majority live below the poverty line with 15% of them having one or both parents, dead and struggling with food insecurity. They are young people who are in desperate need of high quality and affordable (i.e. free) tools for coping with mental health related challenges such as aggression, bullying, anxiety, stress, depression, grief, and suicidal thoughts. They are high-risk candidates for gang affiliation and criminal behavior.
Our programs operate in South Parkdale (SP). The youth we serve come from a variety of backgrounds. Many students have self-identify as Tibetan, Roma, Bangladeshi, Somalian, Gambian and first-generation Canadians. Many MJKO youth feel unsafe within their community. Incidences of violence, often due to the mental health crisis, are a daily occurrence in our neighbourhood. Food scarcity is a big problem for many MJKO children and youth.
The neighbourhood of South Parkdale (SP) runs from Springhurst Ave, up to Queen Street West from Dufferin Street, and over to Roncesvalles Avenue, with approx. 22,000 residents. In 2011, the Toronto Police ranked SP 9th out of 140 Toronto neighbourhoods for the most assault occurrences, and things have not improved since this initial report. “South Parkdale residents have the highest rate of hospitalizations for Mental Health Conditions and Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions,” noted the Ontario Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network.
“You have certain values that you were taught while being at MJKO. It leaves an imprint that you take with you. It doesn’t matter where you go – you spread it without actually really trying to – it just comes naturally. So I definitely consider myself a community champion because if there’s any way that I can help out in an event or [help] a person or group I love to do it. I love helping people and that’s something I learned at MJKO.”
- MJKO Alumni
Participants indicated the power of sport was its ability to connect people. For example, one participant shared, “sports are great because I met every one of my friends at MJKO… without sports I wouldn’t be the person I am today.” Another participant shared, “I think sports are great because it brings people together as one. It also makes people healthier. It’s just a fun thing to do.” Another youth shared, “I think sport is great because it allows people to be both social and keep fit/be active.” And, “boxing is great because we get to not only learn new techniques but we also meet new people and get motivated.”
Perhaps the best summary is a quote from this youth participant: “I wish people knew that MJKO isn’t just boxing – it’s opportunities.”
"MJKO is one of the biggest after-school programs that we participate in. Miranda - I mean, we've seen her work [and] it's definitely working. The things she does - it's phenomenal. The kids all respect her, and these are the kids that don't like police. They don't have respect for authority. But I see the same kids go to Miranda's class, and they're totally different kids. So, we participate, and those kids are starting to open up to us too. I guess using sports is one of the biggest ways to influence them, right. So, it's working really well for us too. That's why we really appreciate the partnership with MJKO"
- Toronto Police Services Officer
“Activities that many of our kids – they look forward to it. They build connections – they’re enjoying [them] – they’re active – they’re learning. It motivates many of our kids. They’re very excited by the program and they want to be in school that day. They’re actively involved, so there’s physical activity. With the [MJKO] leaders there are really good connections. [They’re] just good role models. The fact that MJKO brings in the police officers too – those are other solid connections and strong role models – adult role models. Those value pieces along with the physical activity, I mean, if they’re not with us at that after-school program often they’re just by themselves in the park or they’re at home watching TV. So I think it’s a fantastic program.”
-Toronto District School Board principal
Mentoring Juniors Kids Organization
MJKO is a charitable organization that promotes positive and healthy lifestyle choices through mentoring and leadership training. Our dream at MJKO is to create Community Champions by using the sport of non-contact boxing to get kids moving, thinking about healthy food choices, believing in impossible dreams and understanding the importance of volunteerism.