SUMMER MARTIAL ARTS PROGRAM
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The program, which teaches Judo and Jujutsu, is made available to students entering the 6th grade. In Victoria, Texas, there are three public middle schools, and several private schools that also have middle school grades (6-8). The three public middle schools host the program at different times during the day. All the students entering 6th grade at these schools are encouraged to attend the program. The students attending the public middle schools are encouraged to attend the session on the campus they will begin attending in the Fall. Students attending private schools attend any of the three sessions at whatever public middle school campus they choose.
The program begins about a week or so after school is let out for the Summer, usually the first week in June and ends about two weeks before school resumes in the Fall, usually the first week in August. The program is held three days a week, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week and consists of three separate one and one-half hour sessions, one on each of the three public middle school campuses.
All students in the program agree not to join or belong to a gang and to not have any negative police contacts while attending the program. The program emphasizes good citizenship, respect for parents, peers and others, and develops trust, and camaraderie. The theme of the program is definitely "anti-gang" emphasizing mental focus, and hard work to attain promotional belt colors, not "gang" colors.
2. When was the program created and why?
Prior to the beginning of the Summer of 1996, Victoria Police Chief Tim Braaten suggested that members of the School Resource Officer Unit create a program whereby they could stay in touch with the communities youth during the Summer months when school was not in session. The suggestion resulted in the creation of the Summer Martial Arts Program. Victoria Police Officers assigned to the Victoria Independent School District had been in place on two of the three public middle schools since 1992. With the cooperation of the school district the program first saw life in the Summer of 1996, utilizing gymnasiums of those two campuses. The Summer of 1997 was a repeat of 1996, with the program having grown considerably, after receiving media coverage and by word of mouth from the participants, and their parents. In 1998, the program expanded to the third public middle school campus, and again grew considerably in attendance, with the total enrollment being in excess of 135.
Goals the officers wished to accomplish during the program were to:
a. Develop and reinforce positive relationships with participants, most of whom would be new students on the campuses where the officers were assigned.
b. Ease the stress of transition from small elementary school campuses to much larger and complex middle school campuses. (By coming to the summer program it was felt that they would already feel rather at home there when school actually started, and would know other first year students who also had been in the program, thereby fostering a sense of belonging. Also during the program, school administrators would stop in and meet the children as would patrol officers for that area.)
c. Open the program to siblings and parents as well.
d. Make martial arts available to children who possibly would have been unable to afford commercial schools, due to financial constraints.
e. Increase the participants ability to focus and stay on task, develop patience, increase and improve motor skills, cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, as well as create positive bonds between the school resource officers and the children.
3. How do you measure the program's effectiveness
a. School Resource Officers (SRO's) continue to monitor school discipline referrals during the school year with regards to program participants.
b. Monitor and track the growth in the programs enrollment from year to year, indicating increased popularity.
c. Contacts with participant's parents indicate a high approval.
d. Hopefully, in a few years, Victoria will see a decrease in the juvenile crime rate, and gang activity as a result of the program.
4. How is the program financed?
The City of Victoria provides funding by paying the salaries of the three (3) officers involved with the program, and the Victoria Independent School District donates use of their facilities on the three campuses, which at times includes air-conditioning.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at allHow has the community responded to the program?
Initially the program was strictly for students entering the 6th grade, but popularity of the program led to parents requesting that both younger and older siblings, as well as some of the parents, be allowed to participate. In 1998 participants ages ranged from (4) years of age to (45) years of age. Local news media, newspaper and television, have begun doing several segments per Summer on the program. In all, the program has been well received and will be going into its fourth year in 1999.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.