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Foster youth learn respect, gain self-confidence from local martial arts school

Foster youth learn respect, gain self-confidence from local martial arts school

By Nancy Price

Instructors at a Franklin Township martial arts school are not only teaching local foster kids karate and self-defense; they’re helping them to learn respect, gain self-esteem and become self-confident leaders.

“We teach a lot of foster kids in the DCS system,” said Ernie Shearer, co-owner of Circle City Kicks on South Franklin Road. “I see them increase their self-esteem, self-awareness, work out their anxieties and talk to people. It’s huge for the foster kids. We had a 16-year-old girl that came in here. She was being bullied at school. She stood back and watched (instead of participating). If you tried to touch her, she’d tell you she didn’t like to be touched. In a matter of two to three months, she went from being a withdrawn, shy and introverted kid to a kid who had all the confidence in the world. She was helping and teaching kids, she gave you hugs. She excelled. She was just amazing.”

Students at Circle City Kicks on Franklin Road practice their skills. (Submitted photos)

“They have definitely grown in their confidence,” added Charlene Taylor. She fosters children who have taken lessons at Circle City Kicks. “They’re feeling like they can do better and take care of themselves better. It’s gives them great discipline at the moment.”

Kara Cook said she has seen her foster child become more compliant and cooperative at home as a result of taking karate lessons. In addition, “For a long time, he said ‘I don’t want people watching me,’” she said. “He overcame that and has been a little less fearful to try new things.”

The karate school, which has been in operation for two years, took a hit financially when it was forced to shut down due to COVID-19. Classes eventually resumed outside, and students wore masks and practiced social distancing, though Shearer admitted that the loss of revenue will affect the school’s ability to continue once the building’s lease is up Nov. 1.  In addition, the school is for-profit, so “we can’t apply for grants,” he added.

Some foster kids have transformed from shy and withdrawn to outgoing and self-confident.

Shearer is hoping to find space in a building with about 1,500 to 2,000 square feet for lease at a price that the school is able to afford. “We really do want to stay in Franklin Township,” he said. Previously, the school was housed in another area of Indianapolis that experienced crime and drug abuse, and Shearer would like the school to remain in a safe environment.

Karate lessons for foster youth are $25 per month, and $79-$125 for all others. Uniforms for all youth are covered for the first year.

For more information on Circle City Kicks, contact Ernie Shearer at (317) 430-1050.

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