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Ross students kicking for charity, record

A week from Saturday, on Oct. 15, one group of Demopolis young people is going to take part in setting a new world record. And they might just make Demopolis a safer place while they’re at it.

The young people are the students of Ross Tae Kwon Do Academy, who will be taking part in a nationwide Kick-a-Thon as part of National Martial Arts Day. The Kick-a-Thon is an attempt to set a new world record for the most kicks executed simultaneously across the country. In 2004 Kick-a-Thon participants across the U.S. recorded 8.3 million kicks– and according to Ross’s Ronda Schroeder, 27,999 of those were counted here in Demopolis.

Participants receive t-shirts and other prizes based on how many kicks they record, but for the Ross students, the Kick-a-Thon will accomplish more than just adding totals to a record. The students will be raising funds to provide one child in Demopolis a Project Action scholarship to Ross. According to a press release, Project Action is “a national award-winning non-profit children’s charity whose mission is to prevent juvenile crime by providing disadvantaged and ‘at-risk’ children the opportunity to become involved in physical and cultural arts programs that will provide strong discipline…leadership skills, and academic appreciation.”

Participants in the Kick-a-Thon will be seeking sponsorships, receiving a set amount for each 100 kicks completed. The donations received will provide one at-risk Demopolis child, selected from a pool of applicants in conjunction with school officials, with membership in Project Action. The program enrolls the child in Ross’s usual martial arts classes where they can interact with other students and benefit from the classes’ boost in self-esteem and discipline.

“We’ll bring them in in the middle of all the regular students,” says Schroeder. “Every student’s the same when they walk through that door.”

Project Action also includes three-month assessments of the child’s progress and plenty of interaction between the program and the child’s parents. The goal, as with all of Project Action’s students nationwide, is to help turn around the life of one child who might otherwise have started a life of juvenile crime.

“Attitude is really the big problem with juvenile crime,” says Schroeder. “Nothing’s a quick fix. Children have to molded over time. Each child’s different.”

The success Project Action and National Martial Arts Day have enjoyed has drawn the support of politicians on both the state and local level. Bob Riley has signed a proclamation giving National Martial Arts Day recognition from the state government and mayor Cecil P. Williamson has done the same for Demopolis. Williamson will be on hand at Ross the morning of Oct. 15 to read the city’s proclamation and attend the festivities.

For more information or to make a donation to the Project Action Foundation, please contact Ronda Schroeder at 289-9775.