LONDON, ONT -- They’ve fought through struggles that most children may never know, but several young martial arts students earned new belts Wednesday evening.

A belting ceremony was held for the Kids Kicking Cancer Heroes Circle.

Among the participants was nine-year-old Graham Reid.

“I worked hard to earn it,” said Graham.

This was a major milestone for the youngster because just over a year ago he suffered a stroke, and has been in rehabilitation ever since.

His mother, Marchia Reid said the program helps with breathing techniques that translate to every part of his life.

“One of the main focuses of the program is using a breath break, and they teach them how to do a meditative breath. And Graham uses that multiple times a day,” she said.

The program teaches therapeutic martial arts to children with cancer or other illnesses.

A drive-through belting ceremony was held to maintain social distancing protocols for COVID-19.

Program coordinator Liam Brennan said the unusual format was no less empowering, given what the children have fought through.

“Every child that walks up there is a story. You know their story. You know what they’ve gone through, and it makes my bad day very good when I see them because they’re always smiling,” said Brennan.

For the time being the program is provided online, due to the pandemic.

It allows the staff and volunteers to continue teaching visualization, breathing, and relaxing techniques.

“You know he got home and just joined the class again and COVID-19 hit so we’ve been doing virtual classes twice a week,” said Marchia Reid.

Right now there are 45 children in the program.

Kids Kicking Cancer is funded by private donations, and is free for any child with a diagnosed illness, along with their siblings.