BY JEREMY MOONEYHAM
Owner and Senior Instructor Sensei Jackeline Harnett, a Kempo Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist, along with Academy staff guided nearly 60 children between the ages four and 10 in drills and exercises focused on confronting the difficult topic of “bullying.”
Parts of the session included content from the “Martial Artists Against Bullying” organization, which makes a nationwide educational effort to raise awareness on the bullying issue and help children overcome its negative impact. Sensei Harnett was effective in reaching her audience. When students were asked “what is wrong with this situation and why,” there was typically a quick and clear answer from the youngsters.
Sensei Harnett said the philosophy behind the program is to “help students develop skills that will benefit them in their every day lives, we work on physical fitness, focus, self control, self discipline, building confidence and of course respect.”
She also spoke of her belief that in today’s world, with all the outside influences, “we must take time to listen to our children closely, and constantly emphasize the importance of makings good decisions and being courteous.”
The event balanced fun and hard work for the youths in attendance. Participants engaged in self-defense techniques and then enjoyed a pizza party. The session ended with the children enthusiastically breaking a wooden board in the classic Karate style.
Sensei Fabienne Theard, a 23-year-old Suffern native, assisted Harnett in the program. Sensei Theard, who began practicing martial arts when she was only 4-years-old, said, “Martial arts discipline and the goal-setting we teach translates into increased success both in and outside of school.”
Parents like Sandy Pierre of Spring Valley and Ana Monegro of Pearl River were on hand to encourage their children’s participation in a new group environment. Both commented that awareness of bullying is very important as they prepare each of their kids for Kindergarten this school year. Several parents said their family had traveled far to attend the event and that the drive was more than worth it.
The Academy appears to be a world-class facility, guided by an elite group of teachers – right here in Rockland County. The instruction space at the event was spotlessly clean and the teachers’ ability to focus on the unique needs of each individual student was evident.
For information on upcoming after-school programs and more about the Academy for Martial Arts Orangetown visit www.rocklandkarate.com. Follow the Academy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheAcademyForMartialArts/ for updated offerings. Call 845-359-4500 to register your child. Classes will fill quickly.