Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Self-Defense Session Boosts Confidence, Safety

Ten individuals with disabilities are able to walk more confidently in their communities thanks to a self-defense session brought to them by The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming Foundation and the agency’s Service Coordination program.

John Ingallina demonstrates a
self-defense technique on Chris Clark
After a few individuals expressed safety concerns with regard to their community time, Service Coordinator Tara Collaro began to explore the possibility of self-defense training. Tara’s search ultimately led her to John Ingallina, Head Instructor for United Martial Arts Center, and the possibility of broadening the scope of the training.

“Ultimately, we realized that we serve a number of individuals who would benefit from such a program or seminar,” Tara says. “Because of the direction our field is headed, more and more individuals will be seeking supports and services allowing them to live within their communities, whether in their own apartments or with family members.”

Due to the fixed incomes of many of the individuals who potentially would be interested in the seminar, the Service Coordination team sought financial assistance from The Arc Foundation to bring the program to its intended audience. The Foundation raises money through events such as the annual “Friends Fore Life” golf tournament, Ramon Rocha 5K Run/Walk, and Harvest Fest, and then distributes it to support services that maintain and enhance the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.

The Foundation funded the bulk of the session, which was held Wednesday evening, August 27th, at a cost of just $5 per participant. Service Coordinator Amaris Peffers and Service Coordination Director Jen Warner joined the instructor to offer support and guidance to the participants.

Participants were taught easily executed techniques to escape from or incapacitate an attacker. Focus areas included the application of verbal, psychological, and physical self-defense strategies.

“It was very interactive, and John was able to keep participants well engaged,” Jen says. “The relatively small size of the group enabled John to work with individuals on the techniques until they were comfortable doing them. John talked to the group about how they carry themselves while out in the community can affect whether a potential attacker views them as an easy target or not ... Some expressed concern about being able to recall some of the techniques during a real life situation. However, even if they only recall a couple of elements -- like yelling loudly, walking confidently, etc. -- they will be better off than they were before participating in the seminar.”

Participant Lisa Irwin says she walks with her head a little higher since attending the session.

“I thought it was a lot of fun,” Lisa says. “But more important was the lessons we learned. They taught us how to escape if someone grabs you by the wrist or if someone is bullying you. I feel safer now.”

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