Zen Martial Arts Center

Sacramento Martial Arts and Karate

Down Syndrom Information Alliance features Karate Student's Work

Kaylee, a young student at our school, was recently featured in the latest newsletter for the Down Syndrome Information Alliance. The article is below, and discusses the work that she did.

Spotlight on Local Advocates: Kaylee Dinh and Sensei Oliver at Zen Martial Arts

Mr. Oliver runs Zen Martial Arts in Sacramento. He is a master of karate, and when his students test for their black belts, they are asked to complete a community service project of their choice. One of his students, six-year-old Kaylee Dinh, is good friends with the Sanchez Family, and has a special place in her heart for their two youngest children who both have Down syndrome: Joaquin (age 3) and Sofia (age 2). For her community service project, Kaylee approached the Sanchez family and asked if they would speak to her classroom about children with special needs. Kaylee’s project quickly grew to a bigger level. Mr. Oliver decided to take the opportunity to really get the message out to others that children and adults with Down syndrome are more alike than different.

Zen Martial Arts has a web site for all their students and Mr. Oliver uploaded videos and announcements leading up to Kaylee’s project stressing how important it is to see each child equally. He included public service announcements on bullying and the Special Olympics' “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaigns. He also emphasized that awareness is the first step towards change. He spoke a great deal in class on bullying, and how to treat others with respect and kindness. During these lessons, he also stressed that both children and adults with Down syndrome deserve the same respect and kindness. Kaylee took time to make awareness posters and flyers explaining her cause. Jennifer Sanchez spoke to two different classrooms about Down syndrome and brought Sofia to meet the kids and their parents. It was a very successful experience.

Kaylee’s project was completed a few weeks before DSIA's Step Up for Down Syndrome walk in 2011. Mr. Oliver organized and rallied a group of students and their families to participate in the walk along with the Super Sanchez Six team! Many students arrived the day of the walk dressed in capes and costumes to support all the super heroes with Down syndrome!

Mr. Oliver’s energy and advocacy deserves recognition. He took time to create teachable moments and increase awareness of our amazing, local Down syndrome community. Thanks to Kaylee’s project and Mr. Oliver’s follow through, many people living in the Sacramento area were touched by Down syndrome in a way they never would have been without their support. Thank you Mr. Oliver and Kaylee!

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Comment by Mike Oliver on February 7, 2012 at 12:39pm

Thank you Mr. Cortez. Our goal should be to be proud of the dojo that we train in. Not just because we are good at punching and kicking (although I am proud of that too!) but also because of the things we do and inspire in others in our communities.

Comment by Marcus Cortez on February 7, 2012 at 11:41am

What a cool process. At the same time that Kaylee's project benefits our community, I imagine that the personal benefit is also very fulfilling. I think it's great to see very young students doing these kinds of projects, and I imagine them doing great actions as they continue through life.  This is one of many reasons I take pride in our dojo and the people who meet therin.

Comment by Mike Oliver on February 3, 2012 at 1:34pm

So proud of you Kaylee!

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