Approximately 150 local children and their parents were given lessons Saturday about how to avoid some of the uglier realities of our world " the nightmare of child abduction.
Carson ATA - Karate for Kids put on three classes for children to teach them how to avoid dangerous situations, along with some quick lessons on how defend themselves against potential attackers.
"Our number one goal is to keep all the kids safe and lower child abduction situations here and across the country," said Shawn Goodner, owner and chief instructor of Carson ATA.
The children were instructed on how to avoid strangers, and how to fight back if someone tried to abduct them. Other lessons included the use of a family "secret word," what to do in case of a fire, and how to say no to drugs.
"The program is established so we can teach the kids to be safe, and do it in a fun way," Goodner said. "It makes it enjoyable for the kids, not only to learn, but learn effective stuff and to practice, and they practice with their parents, and their parents enjoy it as well."
The kids learned how to strike back at attackers in their vital areas with their hands, feet and elbows. But Goodner also stressed repeatedly that these self-defense techniques were not to be used against family, friends or pets, but only in the case of real danger.
And then the kids were able to practice their new moves against their helmet-wearing teachers, and how to break free when grabbed by the arm or from behind.
They also learned how to scream, which was harder to teach kids than one would imagine.
"Your best weapon is your voice," Goodner told the kids, and then demonstrated by yelling so loud a couple of his students were knocked back on the floor.
As the kids went through their exercises, Goodner also instilled some martial arts discipline on his young charges, teaching them to be respectful, listen to their parents, and stay out of trouble.
"We were teaching the kids life skills and leadership skills to use at home along the way," Goodner said. "They kind of got it without even knowing it just by default."
Each family received a packet with safety DVDs, a child ID kit, and tips on safety and self-defense.
The classes and packets were co-sponsored by American Taekwondo Association (ATA), Greater Nevada Credit Union, Meek's Lumber and Mark Funke Dentistry.
"We will be looking for more sponsors in the future, so if there are community leaders or companies out their interested in keeping the kids in our community safe, we would love to take on more sponsors," Goodner said.
Also, two Carson City Sheriff's deputies spoke to the children about safety issues and how to avoid getting involved with gangs.
Last week, Goodner did a shorted version of the two-hour program for 600 children at Seeliger Elementary, along with a martial arts display.
"The most important thing is to keep the kids safe, and then teach them how to be positive leaders in their community," Goodner said. "Not followers, but leaders, where they are making this city a better place."
- Contact reporter Kirk Caraway at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-881-1261.