Martial arts program teaches kids to pay it forward in Carson City | NevadaAppeal.com

Martial arts program teaches kids to pay it forward in Carson City

At No Limits Martial Arts Academy, students learn more than self-defense and karate skills.

As a part of the Leadership Program, they also learn what it means to give back to the community and setting an example to inspire others.

To demonstrate that, they presented a $53 check to Eagle Valley Children's Home Director Beverly Hennen on April 19 at the academy, 3242 Research Way.

"She told us it was the first time an outside organization raised money for the home," said No Limits volunteer Kristin Hendricks. "We're planning another fundraising project in the summer for the home; the kids need another shot at life."

Together, the Leadership Program raised money for the home by raffling off filled Easter baskets. Throughout the remainder of the month, members are encouraged to bring in donations for the local women's shelter, and are creating "Thank You" cards for local law enforcement.

"I think it's awesome because we do a ton of great things for the community," said yellow-belt member Zoie Goff, 6, also a part of the program.

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No Limits owner and chief instructor Shawn Goodner said students must be members of the academy for admittance into the Leadership Program. Students are accepted into the program when they display self-discipline at home and good grades in school.

For every member who signs up, they receive a packet including forms for parents and teachers to confirm the student is ready for the Leadership Program.

"Experiential knowledge is a true teacher," Goodner said. "We teach them character and life development skills and they are expected to go out and use them. Modern day self-defense is important, but so is creating a better person to affect the lives of others."

There are currently 15 students enrolled in the program, ranging from ages 6-14. They attend seminars every Wednesday night at 6 p.m. with no cost through testing fees; the program is included in the membership.

Students also advance in higher ranks of belt status by presenting how their skills made an impact to the community, including results from report cards signed by parents and teachers over the course of six months.

"My kids are a part of it and they learned a lot of great life skills," said parent Jim Bathgate. "They know how to interact with adults and are applying it to the real world. Interaction is a skill that is weakening."

But what makes this program stand out is the hands-on experience students are required to participate in, Goodner said.

"Students have to earn leadership skills including communication, presentation, positivity, and giving back," he said. "Dedication is required, but we take care of the rest."

Hendricks' son Blake Glidewell, 7, is a part of the leadership program. After a year of his membership, Blake started to get more involved in the community as he looked up to Goodner, which inspired her to be a part of the No Limits team.

"Kids will not fully understand those who are struggling, such as the homeless, just by telling them," she said. "But by going out on a cold night and passing out blankets to them, that will stick to their minds."

Along with community involvement, the Leadership Program also guides members to become instructors at No Limits. It takes about four years of training to receive a black belt, Goodner said, while including the program to learn character development skills.

"You have to set a goal and earn it," Goodner said. "It makes parents' lives easier and a child they're proud of. My goal is to teach those skills to help kids be more successful in life."

Beau Stevens, 25, is one of the black belt head instructors at No Limits and also went through Goodner's Leadership Program.

He said the program changed his outlook on life.

"I wasn't as confident before I started it," he said. "It helped me change the lives of others and the kids that I teach. My favorite part of being an instructor now is teaching them to bring out the best, and promote productive hardwork within the community."

Next month, students will meet at the Mountain View Elderly Home and spend time with residents. They are also collecting donations for the Ron Wood Family Resource Center, and are scheduled to clean local parks in June.

For membership information at No Limits Martial Arts Academy, visit carsonata.com.

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