Taekwondo Program Builds Youth Integrity

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Taekwondo Program Builds Youth Integrity

Category : Press

November 4th, 1999
Herald Palladium

“Tae Kwon Do is a very militaristic system. Basically, you can take a child and break them down, teach them things that you would not normally be able to teach them,” Smith told the Benton Harbor City Commission this week.

“It’s something I know that’s worked here in the city before when I had the program, and it can work again,” Smith said.

Because there are so many single mothers in Benton Harbor, Smith said, there are legions of children and teen-agers who don’t’ have a strong male role model to help them.

“We have children with a wide range of problems out there. Single mothers sometimes need a strong male image for their children, and that’s where we can step in and provide that for them,” Smith said.

Behavior in school and in the community will be discussed and watched closely by the academy’s instructors, Smith added, and students will be required to bring their report cards to class so instructors can monitor their performance.

Smith is lobbying the city to provide space at the Bobo Brazil Community Center for R.E.A.D.Y., an acronym for Reclaiming, Equipping And Directing our Youth. That location would let the academy network easier with existing youth programs, Benton Harbor Acting City Manager Dwight Mitchell said.

The Collage Project, a support program for at-risk youth in Benton Harbor, the county’s Youth Services Bureau and the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor all have discussed forming partnerships with the academy, Mitchell said.

The Boys and Girls Club is already housed in the Community Center, and the Collage Project is headquartered in the nearby Salvation Army Community Center.

Fees will be charged for the academy’s classes, but Smith said he won’t turn away youngsters who don’t have all the money.


“The student’s respect has grown for all adults, including teachers. I have had fewer disruptions and more learning going on in my classroom that I can directly attribute to the Taekwondo training of my students.”
“I know that a lot of the kids I see here, if they weren’t here, I would be seeing them on the streets.”
“Taekwondo gives us a chance to do something together, outside of work. Plus, kicking is fun and gets out a lot of stress.”