Team Information & Highlights
KickStart Karate's mission is to change and save children’s lives. Resiliency in children is enhanced through the values and philosophies taught through the Martial Arts.
Specific goals of the program are to encourage students to resolve conflict productively, avoid participating in gangs, choose drug-free lifestyles, and remain in high school until they graduate.
Martial Arts training serves simply as the vehicle to instill the values and skills necessary to combat the drug and gang-related peer pressures. The core philosophy of Martial Arts stresses the vital importance of a healthy mind and body necessary to lead a productive life.
The Kickstart Karate Program replaces many missing elements of our students' lives including offering a role model, a figure of authority, a chance to set and reach goals, physical and mental conditioning and very importantly, a feeling of hope for the future and belief in themselves.
Houston and Galveston Independent School District studies show that drug and gang related peer pressure is the worst on the sixth grade level. The goal is to instill protective factors in these children, so that they will have the resiliency to combat these pressures. From Chuck Norris’ vast experience working with children through the Martial Arts, he is confident this program provides the necessary tools for these children.
Background and History
During President Bush's 1988 campaign, Chuck Norris spent several weeks traveling nationwide appearing at fundraising events. It was during these trips that Chuck had the opportunity to discuss his idea of creating a Foundation that targets and instills protective factors which are known to enhance resiliency.* Originally, the Foundation would target drug abuse prevention. President Bush was very encouraging and set up meetings for Chuck Norris with various government entities including the U.S. Department of Education, and the Office of National Service (Thousand Points of Light).
On August 16, 1990, the Kick Drugs Out of America Foundation was formed in Washington, D.C. The Foundation received its 501(C)(3) status on March 1, 1991. The headquarters for the Foundation is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and there are fully operational offices in Houston, and Dallas Texas. Currently, the Foundation has a national board with Chuck Norris serving as Chairman, an Advisory Board, an Executive Director, a Director of Operations, a Director of Development, a Community and School Relations Director, a Business Manager and over thirty-nine Black Belt instructors. Funding permitting, the Foundation will be expanding on a continual basis.
Beginning in 2003, in order to widen the focus of the anti-drugs aspect of the program, and to better represent the core values and philosophy of encouraging every child to lead a productive and healthy life, the Board decided to change the working name of Kick Drugs Out Of America to KICKSTART. The Foundation still maintains its official name as Kick Drugs Out of America Foundation, but now it has added a "dba" (doing business as) KICKSTART.
There has been an on-going evaluation since 1992. Through constant reevaluation of program goals and impact, program directors have come to appreciate that KICKSTART has the potential to impact the children in various ways. Not only may the program help children resist using drugs, but the program is also contributing to the development of conflict resolution skills and a reduction in youth violence.
*Resiliency is invulnerability to stressful situations and problems Protective factors include:
- attachment to a caring adult
- independence and competency
- high aspirations
The overwhelming problems resulting from tobacco, alcohol, other drug abuse, youth violence and gangs in our country are staggering. In the inner-city schools and in many suburbs, the drug and gang-related peer pressure is at an all time high. It is evident that there is very little family structure, little or no guidance and direction for the youngsters, and often no positive role models, even at the schools. Our youth are conditioned for failure, feel there is no future for them and have often lost all sense of hope. Their sense of value for life itself is often non-existent.
Kickstart's primary target population is inner-city youngsters, but the program is currently also meeting the needs of students in various environments. The program generally begins on the elementary and/or sixth grade level. Currently, the participants in the program include Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, and Caucasians.
The extent of America's problems with its youth is enormous. The Foundation's goal is to be part of the solution to the problem. It costs an estimated $50,000 per year per youngster to be in a detention center or jail. It costs less than $500 per child to be in our program. KICKSTART, with the help of all Americans, can make a difference for our children's future.
The program targets and instills protective factors in the students, which are known to enhance resiliency. Resiliency is invulnerability to stressful situations and problems. It is also the ability to bounce back from adversity and adapt successfully.
All children are begging for discipline, although they will never ask for it. Karate teaches children how to discipline themselves and shows them how critical a tool discipline is for achieving their desired goals. The black belt instructors, trained by Chuck to communicate most effectively with this age group, are providing the discipline lacking in most aspects of the youngsters' lives.
Instill A Sense Of Belonging
A sense of belonging is an integral part of everyone's life and many of the inner city children turn to gang-related groups because they feel they fit in nowhere else. The Foundation offers them a positive alternative. When students join the program, they earn the right to belong to the Chuck Norris Team - "T" for truth, "E" for esteem, "A" for attitude, "M" for motivation.
Provide Opportunity For Meaningful Participation In Communities And Schools
Opportunities are afforded the students by the instructors to exhibit their skills at outside organizations, help raise funds for their school program, offer their services for outside community service programs, etc. In addition, a citywide community is developed among participants at each of the schools. KICKSTART hosts several events, which allow for student participation, including tournaments for students from all schools to compete together. There are also joint community service projects.
Set Reachable Goals
Each student will strive for small goals set by the instructor which helps the student realize he/she actually can succeed. Goal-setting is a very important asset, which will be valuable throughout their lives.
Create Reflective Individuals
Provide an environment where the child can recognize his/her insecurities and develop a sense of responsibility toward self and others.
Increase Family Participation
One of Chuck Norris' major concerns is the disintegration of the family unit in today's society. The Martial Arts program focuses on involving the parents and family members in the program's activities. School district officials are shocked at the phenomenal results to date. In all of our participating schools, the average for parental attendance for school functions is 5%. For every Martial Arts ceremony or function at the school, over 85% of the families attend. The families are truly proud of their son/daughter who are part of the Chuck Norris T.E.A.M. There are many other events and activities in which the parents are invited to participate as members of a "Parent Booster Club".
As the program has progressed, teachers as well as the karate instructors are noticing improvement in overall behavior and attitude. Attendance rate is improving significantly, self-discipline, conduct grades, self-esteem, and respect for others is on the rise and the sense of TEAM and belonging is evident at each school.
Collaboration With Faculty & Administrators
One great advantage of this program being part of the daily curriculum is that our instructors communicate on a regular basis with other teachers and counselors and together they can work with particular problems of students. The instructor becomes an integral part of the school community.
Chuck Norris has personally recognized the outstanding benefits the disciplines and philosophies associated with the martial arts can have for children, particularly those who feel there is no future for them. Commitment to karate and the chance to earn a place on the Chuck Norris T.E.A.M. (T for truth, E for esteem, A for attitude, M for motivation) offers these kids an alternative to drugs and gangs and the tools necessary to combat the overwhelming drug and gang related peer pressures. Now they belong to their own positive gang.
The purpose of the Foundation's prevention program is to help fight the war on drugs and youth violence in America through a combination of educational and motivational programs aimed at our youth.
Houston, Texas was chosen for the pilot program and the Board of Education approved the KICKSTART program in November of 1991. Beginning in January of 1992, inner-city middle school students from the four participating schools (Hamilton, Hogg, Burbank and Central Middle Schools) began training in the martial arts as part of their daily curriculum in school. Since then, KICKSTART has expanded to (25) twenty-five Houston area schools, (12) twelve Dallas area schools. The program is now serving over 5,000 youngsters on a year-round basis.
There is one Black Belt Karate Instructor assigned to each school and he/she is considered a member of the faculty working closely with the other physical education instructors, the counselors, teachers, and principals on a daily basis. Each school works with 125-150 students on an annual basis. Summer school programs are also offered to any interested students who are part of the program. Every instructor also remains after regular school hours to work with current students as well as students who are now in high school but wish to continue their training.
The results after nine years of operation have been phenomenal. Attendance rates are improving steadily, self-discipline, self-esteem, and respect for others is on the rise, and the sense of TEAM and "belonging" is evident at each of the schools.
One of Chuck Norris' primary goals with this program is to get families back together, and it is working! At most school district functions, it is lucky if there is 10% parental attendance. At every school function involving our program, over 85% of the parents attend.
KICKSTART's work has just begun and Chuck's dream is to work with youngsters not just all over Texas, but all over the U.S.
Contact Mr. Loebe for more information.