Teaching teens toughness

Walking with confidence, staying alert and being aware of her surroundings are some ways a woman can protect herself from potential danger or life-threatening situations. Also learning some basic self-defense moves is a good protective measure and such will be taught in a class offered by the Minot Family YMCA in Minot.

The YMCA, with support from the Power of the Purse organization, will be offering a self-defense class for teenage girls in grades 9 to 12 on five different dates for people’s convenience. The teen self-defense class, which is a two-hour session, will be held Sunday, at 5:30 p.m.; April 14, at 5:30 p.m.; May 4, at 1 p.m.; May 19, at 5:30 p.m.; and June 1, at 1 p.m. The classes are free of charge due to the support from Power of the Purse, which gave a grant to the Minot Family YMCA that will pay for 200 teenage girls to attend. A maximum of 40 participants is allowed per class and pre-registration is required by calling the Minot Family YMCA at 852-0141.

The class will be held in the fitness room at the Y and will last for two hours.

Minot is a changing community, and Amy Moen, financial development director for the Minot Family YMCA, said that’s the reason why self-defense classes are being offered. “It’s not because we don’t think Minot is safe, but because of how quickly it’s growing,” she pointed out. The population is increasing at a rapid rate and for parents with teenage girls, this growth can be overwhelming when thinking of their security, Moen said.

A variety of self-defense techniques will be taught at the self-defense classes, Moen said. There will also be one-on-one demonstrations with each participant to make sure they know what they’re doing when using the techniques, she added.

“Just because we’re girls doesn’t mean we should be intimidated to be outside and doing what we want to do,” Moen remarked. Teenage girls are at the age where they want to be out on their own or with their friends, she continued, and parents need to know that teens can be trusted and able to protect themselves.

Moen listed some of the benefits of taking a self-defense class as teaching you how to defend yourself in a variety of situations, increasing self-confidence, toning muscle and improving balance and providing social interaction with your peers. Other benefits, she said, include being able to overcome your fears, being able to judge the environment you’re in and making wise decisions, and helping you to not feel afraid. For example, if the parking lot is dark or if you see a group of people who make you feel wary or uncomfortable, the self-defense class can help you feel confident in making a decision about what to do about the situation.

“If you can look at a situation and decide if you should avoid it or do something about it, that gives you confidence that you’ll be okay and it gives the parent confidence that their kid will be okay,” Moen said.

Knowing that you have the tools to react is also extremely important, Moen noted. “If we can teach kids to be aware of their environment before a dangerous circumstance could arise, that’s more important than anything.” Also, as a parent, it’s important to feel confident that your kids can handle a situation and that builds self-confidence in their kids as well as confidence in the parents, she continued.

“There is absolutely no reason for why a parent should not have their daughter attend this class,” Moen emphasized.

In the future, Moen said the Minot Family YMCA is hoping to launch the self-defense classes into younger groups and parents have also asked about self-defense classes for their sons. “So this is a stepping point or a beginning to something bigger.”