In our society, school is the only place where people are segregated by age. In the “real world,” we interact with people of all ages and walks of life. We learn from each other, build friendships, develop unique experiences and gain greater insight into the world.
This fact was brought to my attention in 2008 by Ann Rooney, M.E.D. of Concerning Learning, an organization that helps students identify the tools they need to achieve academic success. Ann had asked JKMA to teach karate at The Academy of Whole Learning, formerly The Whole Learning School, a private school for children with learning challenges.
It was through this experience that I realized how valuable it could be to create a more realistic, or “normal” setting in our dojo, where kids of all ages could interact.
And that’s exactly what you’ll find at JKMA. Classes are organized by belt level and each includes kids of all ages.
When I started karate at age 52, I made friends with a 9-year-old boy, Charlie. He had ADD and as many children with ADD, it is hard to make friends. When his aunt asked him if he had made any new friends, he said “Yes! A lady named Joyce.” Wow, that warmed my heart. I’ll be going to his high school graduation party soon.
The mother of a student said she appreciates that we have classes with kids of different ages. Her son now looks forward to going to class to see his dojo friends.
And a father is delighted that he can take the same karate class as his daughter.
A 14 year old boy who has Autism Spectrum Disorder is enjoying 8 year old boys looking up to him with respect.
A 48-year-old student and mother of a student summed up the value of our approach when she said: “I have a karate family of people I care about and who care about me.”
That’s exactly what we strive for at JKMA: an environment in which everyone feels comfortable and in his or her element.
If you haven’t tried a class yet, or would like to observe one, please call 763-253-9016 send an email.
For other examples of how the JKMA curriculum benefits special learners, check out my previous blogs.
Author: Joyce Brekke, BA, RRT, Black Belt Shorei-Ryu Karate, Director, JK Martial Arts