Self Defense class offered next year

Quinn Riordan, Reporter and photographer

The idea for a self-defense class at LT began in 2016 when PE teachers: Katie Meyers, Kathy Beyer and Joe Conway visited Oak Park River Forest and observed their self-defense program. They learned about the course, became certified for teaching it and worked to implement it at LT.

“It was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had as a professional in education,” Meyers said.

The semester-long course will be offered at NC starting next fall. The course will be a combination between classroom time and unit/fitness days, Meyers said. It will include reading and discussions, situational analysis, data reading as well as physical technique lessons. The class will cover topics including internal voice, peer relationship, bullying, coping, gender roles, healthy versus unhealthy relationships, abuse, consent, rape and sexual assault.

“The class will equip students with the tools necessary to get out of adverse situations,” Meyers said. “It will empower them to take care of their own body, make good decisions, [and] feel strong and capable.”

The process to prepare the curriculum for students took around three years. Last school year, the teachers surveyed around 400 students to gain data about the interest in the class and the possible need for it, Meyers said. A majority of them did not know how to defend themselves but 80% of them expressed that they would sign up for the class.

The class was approved in October to be a course in the 20-21 school year. The importance and goal of the class is still fully being finalized, physical education division chair Kurt Johns said.

“Now starts the hard work of actually developing the class,” Johns said. “We have a good framework to build off of from other schools’ curriculum to a national recognized curriculum called RAD, which stands for Rape Aggression Defense, to create the class.”

Right now, the class is offered only to females or to those who identify as female, Meyers said. The class is run through a national certificate program that requires the curriculum be different for each gender and to provide a safe and comfortable environment for students.

“[The] dynamics of self-defense are different for boys and girls because of how the interaction occurs,” Meyers said. “But we hope and are excited to offer a class for the boys because they can face the same issues and struggles.”

The class will focus on cognitive development and social awareness, Johns said. It will work to provide students with a better understanding of dangerous situations and how to avoid them.

“I hope that down the road it develops our school to be a more welcoming place,” Johns said. “Students will be more educated on how to keep themselves safe, how to be more accepting of all people and fully realize how their actions can affect others.”

Student Sherry Nduka ‘20 is on the Curriculum and Staff Development Team where the class was proposed and the students approved it, Nduka said.

“I think the impact will be that girls who take the class will definitely feel empowered,” Nduka said. “[They] will also be able to take what they learned from the class and possibly teach their friends and create a domino effect in order to spread the knowledge everywhere.”