"Kids love doing it because they love learning how to kick and punch. But the real benefit is all the internal stuff."
Team PRIDE helps kids succeed
By Nargis Nooristani
Outfitted in matching white martial arts attire, the young protégés enrolled in Jordan Schreiber's tae kwon do class are taught discipline as much as they are strength.
But some of his students have a greater need than others for what the ancient practice can offer, Schreiber said.
"Those that could most benefit from the life skills and leadership skills are the ones with the least resources to afford it," he said.
Schreiber offers tae kwon do training for children of low-income families and children in foster care through Team PRIDE, a nonprofit organization he created to provide scholarships for those who would otherwise not be able to afford the training.
At Schreiber's own school, ATA Martial Arts Studio in Martinez, he teaches eight students who have been awarded scholarships.
What started for Schreiber as a final project for law school grew into a national operation that sparked the interest of trainers throughout the country to teach within school districts and private instruction centers.
Schreiber hopes that Team PRIDE will eventually be linked to the court system to work with children in foster care and juvenile delinquents.
Schreiber said martial arts are an avenue to gaining self-esteem and staying on a goal-oriented path.
"I've been teaching kids like this for 20 years. I've had kids start off as incredibly shy and depressed. I've had kids who won't make a sound and avoid being noticed as much as possible," he said. "And now they take on teaching roles."
Steve Coll, a volunteer court-appointed advocate, said he's witnessed the impact that the sport has had on the 16-year-old foster child he mentors.
"At the beginning, the first couple of times he went he could never find his stuff. And a couple of times he would back out because he was tired," Coll said. "And he doesn't do that anymore. He's right there and ready to go."
Wendy Wright's two biological sons and foster daughter all participate in Team PRIDE. Wright said her sons started taking lessons two years ago, but when money became tight, the pricey lessons were slated to be cut from the family activities. She learned about the program from Schreiber and quickly enrolled her sons and daughter.
Wright said the training has served an even greater purpose for her foster daughter, who, she said, has had a difficult life, like many foster children.
Reach Nargis Nooristani at 925-943-8399 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2007 Contra Costa Times