Students with Autism Benefit from Weekly Martial Arts Classes
Date posted: November 4, 2020Every Thursday, calls of “Kiai” are heard on the grounds of our Given Campus in Indian Hill! The Japanese term echoing through the air is a joyful sound as students of the Step-Up Autism Alternative Education program have resumed in-person martial arts classes this fall.
With COVID-19 modifications in place, Master Strickland of Cincinnati Marital Arts Club leads middle and high school students in a series of exercises designed to develop agility, balance and coordination. “Never say I can’t — always say I’ll try,” Strickland enthusiastically calls out, encouraging students to build upon their martial arts skills in a new routine each week.
Like so many, Stepping Stones’ program structure changed in the wake of the pandemic this spring with students and teachers adjusting to an at-home learning model. The continuation of in-person classes and the pride on students’ faces as they master their martial arts technique are positive measures of progress.
“The classes with Master Strickland give students the opportunity to gain confidence while socializing with their peers,” shares Educational Services Director Megan Wingerberg. “They are also a wonderful way of introducing a new skill in a positive and inclusive environment.”
Step-Up was founded in 2004 as the region’s first alternative education program and currently serves students from 11 local school districts. The program’s martial arts instruction is financially assisted by generous support from the John Hauck Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, John W. Hauck and Narley L. Haley, Co-Trustees.
Master Strickland has been a champion of Stepping Stones and a fantastic mentor to participants for a number of years. In addition to Step-Up, he also leads in-person martial arts classes for our Adult Day Services program.