CITY OF NORTHLAKE: 'Our kids all found their voice': Young adults with special needs take part in self-defense class in Franklin Park
City of Northlake issued the following announcement on June 27.
Bonnie Taylor thought her 21-year-old daughter, Mallory, likely would benefit from the self-defense session that took place June 23 at East Leyden High School.
The Naperville resident said Mallory, who has Down syndrome, is “trusting and friendly with everyone.”
“I want self-defense to empower Mallory, and I want her to become a little more aware,” Bonnie Taylor said.
Nine adults with special needs were accompanied by their parents at the workshop at the Franklin Park school. Amy Davis, from Thousand Waves Martial Arts & Self-Defense Center in Chicago, led the event.
“Self-defense is for everyone,” said East Leyden Italian teacher Michele Curley, who participates in classes at Thousand Waves. “We can all use it when we’re in situations where we need to stand up for ourselves.”
According to event organizer and parent Carmella LoCascio of Franklin Park, the students came from around the region, ranging from Naperville, Aurora, Norridge and Franklin Park.
LoCascio’s daughter, Kelly Wesolek, 21, has Down syndrome. Like Taylor, LoCascio said Kelly might be too trusting of strangers.
“Our kids all found their voice,” LoCascio said of the class. “It was a great, great session.”
The workshop began with the young adults sitting in a circle and doing some icebreakers. Then, the students learned about the five fingers of safety, which LoCascio said include think, yell, run, fight and tell.
“We went through each one of the fingers and practiced,” she said. “We practiced yelling. They learned about unsafe situations, and then they were taught physical self-defense.”
She said the students also were taught how to tell someone firmly to stop and what to do if someone is in their personal space. She said they learned it is OK to tell a trusted adult if something is wrong.
“It was very groundbreaking for our young adults,” LoCascio said. “We are fostering independence but with a safety net.”
Curley explained that the young adults will be in the workforce soon, which means they could be in situations on public transportation alone or with strangers.
“We taught them to be upstanders instead of bystanders,” Curley said.
Bonnie Taylor said she wants Mallory to understand that personal space is important.
“I want Mallory to become aware as she is transitioning to adulthood and using transportation or locker rooms,” Taylor said. “Not everyone is a friend, and I just want her to be aware.”
LoCascio said the idea for a self-defense class began in Next Chapter Book Club, which is for adults over the age of 18 with special needs. She said parents of those in the club felt that a self-defense class would be beneficial to the young adults.
“I work with Michele Curley, and I asked her if someone from Thousand Waves could facilitate the program,” LoCascio said. “It all came together, and we used East Leyden to host the event.”
LoCascio hopes that high schools someday can offer self-defense classes into their curriculum.
“When young adults can defend themselves, they feel stronger,” she said.
Original source can be found here.
Source: City of Northlake