Gentle East's Community Partnership with Chesterfield County Schools: Special Abilities Taekwondo Classes | Gentle East Martial Arts
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ACCESS OUR VIRTUAL SCHEDULE
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Our Physical doors might be shut - but our DIGITAL DOORS are OPEN! Secure your spot & get started today with our FREE EXCLUSIVE online offer!

By opting into the web form above you are providing consent for Gentle East Martial Arts to send you periodic text messages. Standard rates may apply. You can reply HELP at anytime or learn more. You may opt-out anytime by replying STOP.
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I can’t explain just how amazing this place is! My daughter was born at just 23 weeks, 1lb. She just turned 3, and is doing well but had a long bumpy road. With said, she has some visual impairments, mild cerebral palsy, and severe anxiety issues. We are four classes in now, and although my daughter cries each time we get to the school, the instructors (every single one) ALWAYS treat her like their own and take their time with her. She comes out of class so happy and oh so proud of herself! They do not treat her differently because of her impairments, they are all patient and kind, and above all understanding. We are BEYOND pleased with GEMA, and the staff to include the wonderful families we have met. Thank you GEMA for creating a better world for my daughter!

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I've tried a bunch of martial arts over the years, but it wasn't until I got to Gentle East that I realized that the art itself doesn't matter so much--it's the attitude of its practitioners. These people aren't learning and teaching how to kill, but how to live. How to live despite trauma and illness, and to keep practicing their art even if it's just in their hearts. The tenets are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit, and they mean every word. They teach the kids that other dojangs won't. Autistic, physically challenged, special needs, you name it. They're fully engaged with the messy business of life. A whole lot of families are glad that Master Barbara Robinson followed her vision. Ours is one.

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Love, love, love this place! The staff is incredibly kind and supportive, and the family atmosphere is palpable the moment you walk in the door! I am so impressed with the work being done with autism spectrum kids, as well as other kids with physical challenges. No one is made to feel like they don't belong here! I even joined the mommy class and my toddlers are allowed to run around us while we work out. I've lost a few pounds, and gained some amazing (non-judgemental) mom-friends! An oasis of kindness and support in the middle of what is often a 'keep up with the Jones's " area of town.

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Gentle East’s Community Partnership with Chesterfield County Schools: Special Abilities Taekwondo Classes

MIDLOTHIAN, VA (WWBT) – James River special education teacher Kieley Thomas teaches students with special needs. Conditions range from autism to sensory process issues to physical disabilities and more. She was looking for some ideas for her physical education class, when she thought of Eric Rangel-Ribeiro, the Master at her children’s Taekwondo dojo, Gentle East Martial Arts.

“I had noticed how Master Ribeiro had worked with one of our students,” said Thomas, “and then I saw an article where he had run with another man, a blind man, in the Monument Avenue 10K with Sportable.”

Thomas had coached both of Master Ribeiro’s daughters at James River, so she knew him well enough to feel comfortable asking if he’d be willing to come to the school and teach her special education students some Taekwondo.

“It was pitched as something that we would try out for a couple of weeks,” Rangel-Ribeiro recalled, “and about the second week, I kind of knew in my mind that this was something that was going to be a year-long thing.”

Now, every Friday morning, these students are breaking boards, breaking barriers, and kicking away any ideas that disabilities can hold them back. Ribeiro says that he tailors each tutorial to the individual.

“We had a student, she used a walker, so we modify things to what the students are capable of doing. So even if they are sitting down on the floor, we find a way to have them participate and do kicks.”

Master Ribeiro has seen the program grow. What started as the idea of a James River teacher has spread into nine schools across Chesterfield County. Ribeiro visits them all on his own time, free of charge.

“These kids are simply amazing,” he said. “I come in here and I think they get a lot out of the program, but I get so much more because I see people at their best. I see them push themselves to try things that they’ve never done before.”

Thomas says Taekwondo Fridays are the one thing that every single student that she has gets happy and excited about, and her biggest takeaway is the joy she observes in them.

“They feel like they’ve accomplished something, they feel powerful, and that’s a great feeling to give anybody, the feeling of being powerful,” she said. “Not in a fighting sense, but just to have self power. I think that’s a great thing.”

“They have a blast,” adds Ribeiro. “There are times when they’ll do something and I will tear up or Coach Thomas will post a video of the kids doing something, and they’re like family. It’s building a personal connection with those students and again, that’s what it’s all about.”

Thomas says Master Ribeiro remembers the name of every student he teaches at all nine of the schools. Interest from other schools is pouring in, and Ribeiro is trying to get some help to put the program in more place. The instructor is hoping that the students take away from the class that the sky is the limit, and not just in Taekwondo.

“I hope they never put limitations on what they can do in their [lives]. I hope that they don’t listen to the people who tell them what they can’t do and they just keep proving what they’re capable of doing.”

Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.

http://www.nbc12.com/2019/03/07/teakwondo-program-has-chesterfield-county-students-kicking-away-limitations/