UISD offers self-defense skills
By JJ Velasquez
Laredo Morning Times
A self-defense program for kids is coming full-circle this year as Laredo students will soon complete the 10-hour course.
United Independent School District coaches and counselors on Tuesday exhibited the simulation aspect of the program, known as radKIDS.
Laredo is the only community to implement the program in all of its public schools, according to Stephen M. Daley, the program’s founder.
“That is remarkable in itself,” said Sylvia Bruni, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Laredo-Webb County.
Bruni was involved in securing funding for the implementation of the program locally.
About 30 UISD staff members were on-hand Tuesday for the demonstration.
The coaches and counselors, who are among a combined force of 60 radKIDS trainers at the district, learned how to conduct and administer the simulations.
Lisa Haberkorn, UISD assistant director of athletics, said the district began training second- and ninth-grade students in September.
All 26 UISD elementary schools have started the program, she said.
Haberkorn said the program equips students with the tools to prevent an attack either from a predator, an assailant or a bully.
Elizabeth Smart, who was famously kidnapped as a teenager in the early 2000s, advocates for the child safety program.
Bruni said a majority of attacks against children occur in the dark, in silence or in secret.
The program doesn’t preach a step-by-step approach but rather encourages children to think instinctively and develop their own plans for stopping the incident and escaping.
Daley said the simulation represents the full realization of power within the child.
He said completion of the program often effects self confidence and a sense of empowerment among those who complete the course.
“This is not about fighting; this is not about violence,” Daley said.
“This is about stopping someone from hurting you.
We’re actually teaching how to do that instead of just telling them what to do.”
The organization has recorded 91 instances where radKIDS-trained children were threatened with violence and came out unscathed, he said.
More than 250,000 children have been trained in the program, according to its website.
UISD is targeting a goal of training every second-grader this year, Haberkorn said.
The long-term goal, said Bruni, is for every Laredo child to become a radKID.
(JJ Velasquez may be reached at 728-2579 or firstname.lastname@example.org)