Support and advice about bullying and abuse is being made available to young martial arts enthusiasts at the Kent Karate Schools thanks to an innovative scheme which is the brainchild of the National Association of Karate and Martial Art Schools (NAKMAS National Governing Body).
The 'Safe Kids' initiative sees all young participants of the Kent Karate Schools and NAKMAS's other member clubs and groups offered advice on how to avoid difficult situations and where to seek help if they are being bullied.
All children learning martial arts at the Kent Karate Schools receive credit-card sized advice cards, providing contact details of organisations which are able to help, as well as giving tips on keeping safe.
The aim of the initiative is to make children better prepared, should they encounter bullying or abuse.
Rev Joe Ellis, chief instructor to the Kent Karate Schools says:
"While martial arts gives children the confidence to stand up to bullies, they should know that they do not have to face it alone. 'Safe Kids' provides them with advice on where to turn to for professional advice. The initiative is great for the children and helps us to teach the importance of how to deal with bullying and abuse in the right way."
Gary Smith, national deputy chair of NAKMAS, says:
"NAKMAS's member clubs and groups are not just there to teach martial arts. We want them to be support networks for youngsters as well, offering advice and helping them avoid bullying and abuse. The scheme also helps coaches and instructors do their job more effectively, by providing them with a vital tool to educate their young pupils on matters which might affect them."
Clubs/groups which have received formal training from NAKMAS to become accredited to the governing body automatically sign up to Safe Kids. In addition to the campaign, coaches and instructors receive the Stay Safe magazine, which is published twice a year, and provides advice, updates and case studies relating to welfare issues within martial arts coaching.
Coaching awards to the standard of the NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) and UKCC (United Kingdom Coaching Certificate) are available within NAKMAS. It has an active NSPCC approved Welfare Policy. It also has Registered Body status via the DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) and Disclosure Scotland to check against the criminal records register. NAKMAS is also a core member of the Anti-Bullying Alliance.