Empowering children through martial arts

Published 11:39 am Tuesday, January 9, 2024

January is Mental Wellness Month and with rising negative influences being pressed upon children, there is one positive influence parents can turn to — martial arts. Steps to Hope offers Empower Martial Arts, a FREE program for children in Polk County and surrounding areas.

“We focus on promoting confidence, respect, coordination, behavior, and direction in children ages 6-16. Our goals for this program are to reduce aggressive tendencies, provide positive peers, and enhance self-esteem,” Program Manager, Cindy Wicklund stated.  

Diane Nelson, Executive Director of Steps to HOPE reported, “In our line of work, we see the impacts of violence on children.  Many kids who witness violence in the home may be at greater risk of being violent in their future relationships. This is why our program, Empower Martial Arts, is vitally important to our community.  We want to make a positive impact on these children, so they do not suffer from serious risk of long-term physical and mental health problems. They will learn healthy coping skills. They will know there is help out there.”

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Brian Jones teaches Empower Martial Arts each Wednesday in the Community Room at Steps to Hope. Classes for children ages 6-11 are held from 3:30-4:30 p.m. and ages 12-16 meet from 4:30-5:30 p.m.. Brian is a long-time martial arts coach with a Marine Corps background who spent his early years training in Kempo karate and Jeet Kune Do earning his black belts. He then began training and instructing in Mixed Martial Arts which led him to teach women, men and children in Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

To register your child for the free, Empower Martial Arts Program, please call 828-894-2340 or email programs@stepstohope.org.


Submitted by Jessica Cashwell