OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Over the years we’ve told you about Claire Tietgen.
Now 15-years-old, she’s taking her struggles with bullying and suicide, and trying to make a difference.
May 12 was a new chapter in her journey as she opens the door on her newest project.
“When I tried to take my own life I think it was an opener to eyes to people, and to my parents that we need to do something or she`s not going to be with us anymore,” Tietgen said.
In the past four years she’s come a long way.
“I’m in awe. I’m in awe of what she’s been able to do,” her father, Charles Tietgen said.
At 11-years-old she couldn’t take it anymore. Claire was bullied and lost a friend to suicide. She decided her life would be the next to end. Her parents were able to intervene, and she turned her life in a positive direction.
“I was born to do something. I was born to live. I was born to change people`s lives for the better,” Tietgen said.
Over the past year she’s been building a gift for kids just like her. She found a love of jiu jitsu which helped her through the hard times, but realized not everyone can afford it.
“I hated kids wanting to do this and not have the opportunity to do it, so we created this,” Tietgen said.
It’s a sports facility and assessment center in Overland Park called E3 – embrace, empower, and encourage.
“The gym side is for jitsu, yoga, and fitness. For kids to get their self-esteem through sports and education,” Tietgen said.
The other side of the facility is a learning center and meeting space. It gives kids the opportunity to use a Kolbe Y assessment, an evaluation to identify a person’s strengths and see how they learn best.
“She saw other children that weren’t fitting in that needed something. She’s watched herself recover, and she wants to bring that to other children as well,” Charlie Tietgen said.
Claire and her family want to help teens and kids find their strength instead of giving up.
“The situation your child`s in is very serious, and it is life and death. Don`t downplay it,” Charlie Tietgen said.
“It gets better. Life gets better. It’s only a short amount of time that you are going through this. Find something that you love to do. Find something that you love to do and make it cool. That’s what Rhonda Rousey said. I’m quoting her on that,” Tietgen said.
The center offers walk-in classes and memberships for yoga and jiu jitsu. All of the proceeds go back to Claire’s non-profit, and scholarships are available.