Giving fitness a 'Kick-Start'
Falkville Elementary students participate in karate program
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A group of preteen girls from the Falkville area are reaping the benefits of a "Kick-Start Karate" empowerment program thanks to the initiative and persistence of Rachel Wylie, a fifth grader teacher at Falkville Elementary School.
Ten fifth and sixth grade girls are enrolled in the program. They started attending classes at River City Karate in Decatur June 5 and will continue to do so twice a week for a year. The class consists of Meredith Williams, Lauren Beasley, Lydia Urick, Kayla Ferguson, Mary Grace Ward, Tiana Drinkard, Rachel Wilhite, Casey Bowen, Heather Russell and Morgan Jump.
Wylie said her experience in the classroom impressed on her the need for an extracurricular program aimed at empowering young girls to make wise decisions and become productive young women. Likewise, her own training in karate (she holds the purple belt) gave her the idea of a "Kick-Start Karate" class.
"I wrote to over 100 companies nationwide in search for a sponsor," Wylie said. "Then, in May 2006, (television network) Nickelodeon came to our rescue. They selected Falkville Elementary School as one of its 'Let's Just Play Giveaway' winners and awarded us $5,000 to cover expenses for the first year."
"Let's Just Play Giveaway" is an extension of Nickelodeon's 2004-05 "Let's Just Play" pro-social campaign, which encourages healthy and active lifestyles for kids and families. It recently entered into a partnership with The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, to combat the spread of childhood obesity.
Wylie said "Kick-Start Karate" is not just about physical conditioning and self-protection. It also promotes the development of strong character traits.
"In addition to karate lessons, I'm using the Go-Go Girl curriculum from the National Women's Foundation as well," Wylie pointed out. "It deals with self-esteem, self-confidence and respect for oneself as well as others."
"The reaction of the girls and their parents is very positive," Wylie added. "They can't wait to come back for the next session."
Wylie said she is already looking for sponsors to help pick up the cost of the program beyond June 2007. Any business interested in being a future sponsor should contact Wylie at River City Karate, 340-0500.