KICKSTART Martial Arts Program Builds Character, Instills Values in Students
Students to perform, receive belts at Dec. 8 belt ceremony
Discipline. Respect. Inner strength. Teamwork. These concepts are the cornerstones of KICKSTART, a martial arts program offered at three Pflugerville ISD middle schools. Students from Dessau, Kelly Lane and Westview middle schools will participate in the District’s inaugural belt ceremony in the Pflugerville High School gym on Dec. 8, beginning at 7 p.m.
An alternative to traditional physical education classes, KICKSTART is a character-building program founded by actor and martial artist Chuck Norris. Norris is expected to be in attendance at the belt ceremony.
“The belt ceremony is the highlight of the KICKSTART program at the end of each semester,” Kelly Lane KICKSTART instructor Lance Leach said. “The students get a chance to show their parents, family and friends what they have been working on during that semester and receive their new belt.”
The belt ceremony will also feature a special performance by KICKSTART’s Houston city-wide Demo T.E.A.M., a group representing the best and brightest from around the Houston area KICKSTART schools. This team has won two consecutive Demo Team World titles at the Chun Kuk Do International Training Conference and World Championships held in Las Vegas each year.
The KICKSTART Program in Pflugerville
KICKSTART is in its first year in Pflugerville ISD, but 43 schools and over 6,000 students in Texas currently participate in the program, which teaches participants how to live a more productive life and make healthy choices for themselves through martial arts philosophies.
The program has graduated over 60,000 students in the past 16 years and boasts countless success stories from its established programs in the Houston and Dallas areas. Pflugerville is the only Central Texas district to offer the KICKSTART program.
The program has specific goals to encourage students to resolve conflict productively, avoid participating in gangs, choose drug-free lifestyles, and remain in high school until they graduate. The core philosophy of martial arts stresses the vital importance of a healthy mind and body necessary to lead a productive life.
Kelly Lane principal Devin Padavil can already see the program’s impact on his students.
“KICKSTART has been an amazing addition to our campus. The students are highly engaged and active during the actual classes,” Padavil said. “Our 6th graders in particular carry themselves with a sense of pride just knowing they are part of this program.”
Padavil has noticed unexpected advantages to the program, which combines students from all three of the campus’s grade levels into one classroom.
“Since our classes include students from each grade level, it's also been a great opportunity for kids of various grades to mix in a healthy and worthwhile way,” Padavil said. “Prior to offering this class, sixth-graders didn’t interact with older kids on a regular basis. Now we have positive relationships being built between the different grade levels.”
Westview Middle School’s motto is PRIDE – Preparedness for life and learning; Respect for self and relationships; Integrity as it pertains to one's character; Discipline of the mind and soul; Excellence in all endeavors – and principal Ronald Gonzales thinks the KICKSTART program is in perfect alignment with the beliefs the school tries to instill in its students.
“KICKSTART helps students to feel empowered and shows them how to make smart choices that will allow them to be successful in life,” Gonzales said. “The program teaches so much more than martial arts techniques. KICKSTART shows students how to channel their energy in a positive way, and how to give their best effort without fear of failure. These are valuable lessons that will serve our students well, not only in a school setting, but in their daily life.”
Leach has been involved with martial arts for nearly 30 years, and is a firm believer in the KICKSTART program.
“I could go on all day about the KICKSTART program and what I believe the martial arts have done for me,” Leach said. “One of the most valuable lessons I think students learn is that life is not about how fast you can get to a goal, but how well you achieve that goal by taking small steps to reach the desired result.”
Help Support KICKSTART
The Pflugerville Education Foundation (PEF) is helping to fund the program through $5,000 grants to each participating campus. For more information on how you can help sponsor the KICKSTART program in Pflugerville ISD, please contact PEF Executive Director Zenda Johnson, 512-594-0090.