radKIDS program teaches children self defense moves

Jul 25 2012 - 6:33pm

Images

(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Instructor Wes McKinney holds a pad while Xander Graupman, 8, practices what he learned during a radKIDS safety program at Ellison Park Elementary School in Layton.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Wes McKinney holds a dummy while Rachel Ferguson, 10, practices what she learned during the program.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Wes McKinney instructs children during a radKIDS safety program at Ellison Park Elementary School in Layton.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Wes McKinney holds a dummy while Brexton Creed, 9, practices what he learned during a radKIDS safety program.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Brooklyn McKinney, 5, practices what she learned during a radKIDS safety program.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Jared Ferguson, 9, practices his hitting.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Hailey McKinney, 7, hits a dummy to practice what she learned during a radKIDS safety program at Ellison Park Elementary School in Layton.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Instructor Wes McKinney holds a pad while Xander Graupman, 8, practices what he learned during a radKIDS safety program at Ellison Park Elementary School in Layton.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Wes McKinney holds a dummy while Rachel Ferguson, 10, practices what she learned during the program.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Wes McKinney instructs children during a radKIDS safety program at Ellison Park Elementary School in Layton.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Wes McKinney holds a dummy while Brexton Creed, 9, practices what he learned during a radKIDS safety program.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Brooklyn McKinney, 5, practices what she learned during a radKIDS safety program.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Jared Ferguson, 9, practices his hitting.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Hailey McKinney, 7, hits a dummy to practice what she learned during a radKIDS safety program at Ellison Park Elementary School in Layton.

LAYTON -- There was such a high demand for the radKIDS program -- which took place during the school year for Layton City's elementary students -- that the Layton City Police Department decided to move the national program to 10 of Layton City's 12 elementary schools this summer.

The department plans to finish the remaining two programs when school begins in the fall.

The summer schedule allowed the department's resource officers to reach out to 500 kids, ages 8 to 12 -- double the number of students reached during the regular school year.

During this week's morning session at Ellison Park Elementary, several of the 28 kids in attendance began chuckling when detective Jason Nordgran suggested they use their newly learned skills of hammer punches and pepper shots to the dummy he held.

However, the kids quickly learned it was no laughing matter when the detective grasped their arm and didn't let go until they had hit the dummy hard enough for Nordgran to let go and they could run away to the safe zone.

"The idea is to teach these children that they don't have to comply with a strange adult, that they can resist," said Nordgran. "Statistics show that if they don't resist, they have a 3 percent chance of getting away. But if they do resist, they have a 53 percent chance of escaping; and, if they injure their attacker, it goes up even higher."

At first, 8-year-old Grace Kimber of Layton wasn't sure what to think when it was her turn to defend herself against the dummy. But she quickly learned it wasn't as hard as she thought it would be.

"It ended up being pretty easy and was my favorite part because it was so fun," said Kimber.

Her mom, Kristin, said she hopes her daughter gains more confidence from the class.

"Last year, she wasn't 100 percent confident riding her bike to school, so I'm hoping she gets more safety skills to feel safe when riding her bike to school."

One of the highlights of the course for Nordgran is watching the young kids break out of their shells and recognize that they can do something to get away. By teaching them the radKIDS stance -- with their hands up in defense position -- and yelling loudly, "stand back," then hitting hard, and running fast, kids can put up enough resistance to give them a fighting chance.

Some of the students who were a part of the program during the school year are going through the program a second time, which Nordgran is happy to see.

"By repeating the class, they further ingrain the skills to make sure they are available if they ever need them," said Nordgran. "By teaching them, they have something to fall back on and they build that confidence where they can do something. Some training is better than no training."

During the training, it's easy to see that many of the kids have small hands and wrists, incapable of punching an adult hard enough without injuring themselves, which is why the radKIDS moves are designed to protect their small fingers and hands.

They are taught to use a hammer strike, which is a simple technique that targets an attacker's nose using the meatier part of a child's fist. The pepper strike has the children putting all of their fingers together to poke at a suspect's eye, which decreases the chance of one of their fingers breaking.

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