The United Teachers of Dade (UTD), Ronin Pro Wrestling, Florida Education Association (FEA) and the PTA/PTSA of Miami-Dade County joined forces recently to deliver an evening of high-flying professional wrestling entertainment to benefit My Life My Power (MLMP), an anti-bullying and youth development nonprofit founded by undefeated mixed martial artist and WWE Tough Enough inaugural champion, Daniel Puder.
The event took place at Miami Jackson Senior High School in front of an audience of approximately 375 and culminated in a four-on-four tag team match in which Puder, UTD president Fedrick Ingram, Lt. Col. Major Mark and Anthony Dominguez took on Jesse Sorensen and three brave members from the audience.
Eighty percent of the evening’s proceeds were donated to aid curriculum, assemblies, faculty training and parent workshops and every attending student and teacher left with a new pair of Saucony Sneakers.
“The event was great,” Puder said. “The kids really got into it and it was a lot of fun.”
The idea for My Life My Power came to Puder five years ago after he learned of the suicide epidemic resulting from bullying. A victim of bullying himself, having grown up overweight and in special education classes throughout most of his schooling, he took to the celebrity gossip website TMZ and gave out his email address and offered to make special appearances to combat the problem personally. The response was so overwhelming he knew he had to do more than just make a few personal appearances.
“We got over 10,000 emails from 12 different countries in eight weeks,” he said. “We really saw a need for something like this and knew we needed a year-round curriculum to do it.”
My Life My Power partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to implement a flexible, solution and evidence-based training and youth programming for kids of all ages and adults of all walks of life. The robust program currently offers certified mentor training workshops for educators, school staff, law enforcement, federal agencies and volunteers and is currently taught as a three-credit course at Nova Southeastern University.
MLMP also has partnered with juvenile justice departments and law enforcement agencies to reduce repeat offenders and is involved with the International Red Ribbon Movement to help keep kids drug free.
Recently, Puder was contracted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to come to their Quantico headquarters to train a group of 250 FBI National Academy associates in January in the program.
“We’re an evidence-based program and the program works,” he said. “What’s great is we have pre- and post-assessments conducted digitally by the schools themselves — so we don’t have a hand in them — so we can understand the different areas in which victimization goes up or down.
“Over 95 percent of the kids improve, which is amazing, and we can keep track of that data over time to monitor their progress and make sure schools are getting the most out of the program. The goal, long term, is to get more schools acclimated and with the same mindset to help all students get on the same page to help prevent the challenges of bullying.”