Kelly Gary, First Grade Teacher, Sewickley Academy

In the beginning we thought our son would benefit from Karate because Karate training is a gross motor activity that helps youngsters develop a sense of integrity about their bodies. Balance, coordination, posture, and general movements improve with karate training. All that is true and Dimitri has benefited from that. But now we also believe that "Karate builds confidence and self-esteem as well as self-discipline, respect, concentration and courtesy." Sensei Dustin Baldis portrays all the above values in his Karate classes. The Pennsylvania Shotokan Karate Club has been an unbelievable journey for our son. Our son was shy, timid, and always a follower. He would be intimidated and afraid of the children’s "Keeyai" sounds. Because of the Pennsylvania Shotokan Karate Club and Sensei, his self-confidence and self-esteem grew. He developed better social interactions with his peers as well as children younger and older than him; He is now less threatened by other children or new situations. Sensei’s strict, consistent and fair approach to teaching has been very beneficial for him. Sensei stresses the importance that youngsters are taught how to avoid trouble and challenges. He teaches them to learn to have enough self-confidence that they need not respond to teasing or provocation from peers. He treats the children with respect and expects respect from them. Being a teacher myself, I believe in equipping the children of our future with these necessary skills to add to their "toolboxes." "It’s not the first one done, it’s the best one done." I have ‘stolen’ this phrase from Sensei and use it in my classroom to teach how important it is to have a sense of pride in your work not merely completing an activity and forgetting about it. The Pennsylvania Shotokan Karate Club is a great program and has played a major role in our son’s life by giving him the means to manage his everyday life with discipline and focus.