“Champion of Dunbar Village”
Giving back to the community comes effortlessly to Elements Academy of Martial Arts business partners Mysha Dewar-McClelland and Emma Hamilton. They share the common value that Elements is much more than a neighbourhood business.
Dunbar reminds Dewar-McClelland of Lindsay, Ontario, the close-knit rural town where she grew up. She feels fortunate to work in this special neighbourhood; therefore it is part and parcel to invest in the community where Elements’ members live and attend school.
“We encourage our students to not only build community within our studio but to embrace and give back to our larger Dunbar community.”
For a number of years Dewar-McClelland volunteered and subsequently was employed at Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW). She attributes the personal satisfaction she derives from volunteering to the time she spent assisting the rape crisis centre. WAVAW is one of many organizations that benefits from the excellent fundraising work Elements regularly undertakes.
Dewar-McClelland had no experience with martial arts until she was 27 years old. That was when she was introduced to Hamilton who persuaded her to attend a class. She trained with Hamilton and has been working as an instructor and the studio’s administrator since Elements opened in 2009.
She wishes she had discovered martial arts when she was a teenager. The girls’ programs have special meaning to her. “I see myself in them. It is inspiring to see young women taking pride in their physical ability,” she says.
Hamilton is the only female owner of an independent martial arts studio in Vancouver.
As role models for girls of all ages, she and Dewar-McClelland like to offer the gift of empowerment through self-defence and kickboxing training whenever possible.
A few years ago Hamilton connected with KidSafe Project Society and volunteered to train Grade 6 and 7 inner city girls. Subsequently, she discovered KidSafe’s GEMS (Girls Exploring Motion and Self) program, which assists girls at Florence Night-ingale Elementary on Vancouver’s eastside.
Elements held a fundraising Kick-A-Thon at the studio to benefit GEMS. Elements’ members of every age (kids, youth and adults) collected pledges and participated in different categories to demonstrate their ability and technique and to see how many timed kicks they could accomplish. They were ecstatic to raise over ten thousand dollars for GEMS, far surpassing their goal; the extraordinary accomplishment provided the girls’ program with funding for a year.
Other Elements fundraisers have benefited WAVAW and Big Sisters. This year the martial arts academy (in partnership with Vancity Buzz) offered four free self-defence workshops for women, including one held at Musqueam. Over the years Elements has run numerous community programs at the Musqueam Community Centre.
Dunbar Apartments recently invited Dewar-McClelland to talk to residents about self-defence and safety in the community. It was so well received that she plans to return to offer a self-defence workshop.
Elements can also be found participating in Dunbar Village Business Association’s (DVBA) events such as the Harvest Festival and Salmonberry Days. Another way Dewar-McClelland gives back is through volunteer work as a DVBA board member.
After two terms as Dunbar Village Business Association’s secretary to the board, Dewar-McClelland has recently been appointed as vice president.
She says, “Since taking my place on the DVBA board I have become even more integrated into the Dunbar community. It is a source of pride knowing my business neighbours and being able to say hello to many familiar faces when I walk up and down Dunbar. I love it. It’s a stepping stone that connects me to the community.”
McClelland believes the assorted ways Elements contributes to Dunbar nurtures the community. Relationships develop both inside the studio and out and ultimately connect people from all walks of life.
Hats off to Elements Academy of Martial Arts, this champion of Dunbar, for leading by example and showing how a small business can accomplish great things.
Elements Academy of Martial Arts, 4465 Dunbar St, Vancouver BC Telephone 604-568-3441 www.elementsacademy.com