Martial arts ‘Break-a-thon’ raises $7K for charity


KELLIE THOMAS OF Taekwondo KICKS believes in teaching her students about helping the community and bringing kindness, confidence, physical fitness and self defense to the practice. It looks like the student with her agrees. Photo courtesy Taekwondo KICKS

MIDDLEBURY — A local martial arts school, Taekwondo KICKS, is demonstrating that Taekwondo is much more than a martial art. Newly promoted 6th degree black belt, Kellie Thomas, says that she is trying to get her students to learn that you don’t have to be physical to be a hero.

“I’m trying to get the students to understand that they do play a role in the community; that even the youngest child can do something to help out their neighbor.”

To teach this lesson to her students, Thomas created a “Break-a-thon” fundraiser where her students will ask for pledges to break boards and donate the money they raised to a charity. This year, the school fundraised $7,000 for local charities.

After years of training, Thomas was recently promoted to 6th degree (which is equivalent to being a practicing black belt for at least 20 years) and became the highest ranking woman in ITF Taekwondo in the state of Vermont. With her sights on the future, she is continuing to use her knowledge to help develop the next generation.

“My hope is that when students walk away from class that they learn that they are worth it, that they are important and are worth sticking up for.” She believes she can do that by bringing her anti-bullying program into schools to help students in an area that she feels is not talked about enough. “Fifty percent of your self-defense is your voice and a lot of people don’t even realize that.” She explained, “so by giving young people a voice and the right voice I think would do a lot to protect them.”

Community has been a key focus for Taekwondo KICKS since it started back in 2006 at the Aurora School as a temporary fitness activity. Now, KICKS has grown to three school districts with around 250 students ranging from preschool to adults. Thomas believes that her school’s values are what sets it apart from others by teaching the importance of kindness, confidence, physical fitness and self-defense, which she says is reflected by a supportive and humble environment for all ages.

Those values aren’t only a reflection of her school, but her black belts. Being promoted to a black belt is a significant achievement and an honor that is given to signify the transition from student to teacher. “They really have to show me that they are able to lead and be a good role model, regardless of how old they are,” says Thomas.

As Taekwondo KICKS gets ready to kick start the fall season, anyone interested can call 802-377-0476 or email tkdkicks101@yahoo.com for more information about signing up. The first class is always free to try out and has no body contacts. Family discounts with scholarships are available.

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