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Thirty children in T-shirts hammer punch and roundhouse kick as organizers and parents snap photos from bystanders in a recreation field in southwestern Philadelphia in the hot summer sun. I practiced.
By 3: 00 pm on Saturday, the free one-month martial arts program (kick-up, guns-down) will end. However, supporters want to carry on the lessons learned in the grant effort and, most importantly, save lives.
Lessons like self-control and self-determination — and there’s a better way to handle conflicts than picking up a gun and shooting someone.
Jamila Ridley, one of the organizers of the program, said: “We don’t want to take the kids to the street.”
Many of the participants in the program are in elementary and junior high school. Some people haven’t started kindergarten.
It’s not too early for Ridley to teach children to find an adult if they come across a gun in the house or elsewhere. She said enough fatal accidents had occurred, including a nine-year-old girl who died in January after shooting her head with a gun found at her home in North Philadelphia.
“We don’t want the children there to be sacrificed,” Ridley said.
The summer program was made possible by a $ 7,300 grant awarded through the city’s Targeted Community Investment Grant program, which focuses on supporting small grassroots anti-violent groups.
Kim Smith, head of South Philadelphia Junior Stakeholders, said the city applied for a grant in January after the city ended 2020 with 499 murders and more than 2,200 shooting victims.
“It was the rise of gun violence when people were supposed to be inside during the pandemic,” she said.
For Smith, the rise showed a serious need for youth mentors and programs rooted in areas such as martial arts, her lifelong passion. So, after winning the grant, she teamed up with more than half a dozen martial arts schools in the Philadelphia region, where kick-ups and guns-downs were born.
According to Ridley, the organizers will continue to coach the children who participated, but it is unclear if the program will return next summer.
Everyone who gathered at the Kingsessing Recreation Center on Saturday eagerly hopes that a program featuring motivational speeches and informal interactions with local police will live to fight another day. increase.
One of the program’s instructors, Anthony Lingo, is not only ready to escalate conflicts with words, but also of children who have the skills to disarmament perpetrators with their feet and fists as needed. Assuming an army.
“If one actor doesn’t change the climate of interaction, violence will decrease,” Lingo said. “You can escalate or unescalate.”
This is part of a message that 12-year-old Edward Brandt intends to bring him back to his younger brothers and friends in the southwestern neighborhood of Philadelphia.
“They are good boys. I don’t want them to be on the street like almost every other kid I know,” Edward said. “By the time they reach my age, they’re not going to listen.”
Source link Fight Gun Violence Through Martial Arts and Escalation Lessons | Local News
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