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It’s a G Thing: Lunchtime martial arts program helps schoolkids stay active, focused and engaged

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“We teach the basics of martial arts through more of a dance program," Greg Drozdek described.

Strong yet gentle, the practice of judo is captivating these kids.

“You get to move around, and have fun while you’re exercising,” Ryann, a 4th grade student, said.

This lunchtime lesson is offered at PS 20M, the Anna Silver School, a Title I school on the Lower East Side, by volunteers of New York Cares.

“They learn about movement, breath, relaxation and physical alignment,” Drozdek explained.

Sensei Greg Drozdek created the program and visits twice a week, along with multiple other schools in the city, working with different grades each cycle.

“They’re an extension of my vocation, someone taught me and now it’s my turn to teach them," he said. "But you have to teach them through action and not words.”

It’s also about forming a relationship built on trust and respect from the moment they walk in the door.

“He’s a very good karate teacher," Alen, another student, said.

“He teaches us how to listen and behave," Dylan, a 4th grade student, added.

And it’s lessons like those that Greg believes make physical activity crucial in schools.

“They sit too much, they need to move,” Drozdek elaborated. "I think by giving them an outlet for that energy they can then go back to class and focus more.”

The school’s PE teacher, Christine Drago, believes this martial arts course is teaching the little ones even more.

“We have adults who are coming here to give their time, so they’re learning to give back to the community,” Drago explained.

She says it’s all translating outside of the gym as well.

“I have subject teachers saying that the kids who may have not been listening or behaving very well or misbehaving, have made a change,” she said.

Sensei Greg Drozdek hopes to have his free program spread to as many schools as possible, but first he needs more volunteers. For more information, go to www.NewYorkCares.com


Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi