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Promoting behavior enhancement through TAE KWON DO

The Diabetes Program at Winslow Indian Health Care Center (WIHCC) is excited about a new wellness program in Winslow that is six months old.  Area children, teens and adults are already realizing the benefits from participation in a Tae kwon do program facilitated in a partnership between Black Belt Academy - Hopi and WIHCC. Black Belt Academy - Hopi has previously established programs at Hopi, Tuba City and Pinetop.

At present, over 60 people participate in the Winslow program. Classes are held two nights per week for ages 6-12 and 13-adult. A new class was formed in October for WIHCC employees as an employee wellness activity.

Promoting Total Wellness

There’s a lot more going on at Tae kwon do than exercises! From the outset, WIHCC staff members have conducted lifestyle and behavior modification classes to promote lifestyle changes and healthy choices in an attempt to minimize the future risk of chronic illness such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

There are nutrition classes which include instruction on healthy foods and snacks, portion sizes and meal planning.  Participants are tested for their body mass index. There have been immunization updates, methamphetamine prevention classes and Diné cultural presentations to promote total wellness.

“This program changes children and teens from shy to outgoing,” said Lita Scott, WIHCC Diabetes Educator. “The attendance is excellent. We’re giving the participants something they like and want to come to.”

From student evaluations and self-assessments, 100% said they “like the class,” 93% plan to “continue the class,” and 100% gave the highest rating to the instructor. Parent involvement with students was measured at 60%, 93% said they are exercising more, 86% say their eating habits have improved, and 53% could define or give an example of being courteous.

This program truly embodies traditional values of body, mind and spirit, instilling them in participants. The Black Belt Academy Tae kwon do program is committed to implementing the wellness concepts of discipline, mentoring, empowering, providing structure, self awareness and goal setting to people of all ages.

The Tenets of Tae Kwon Do

With the guidance of cultural interpreters and a Navajo Wellness Model developed at Chinle Hospital, the WIHCC staff has applied aspects of the Diné Four Directions to the Tenets of Tae kwon do. The tenets of Tae kwon do being taught to participants in this program are:

  • Courtesy – To be thoughtful and considerate of others. Tae kwon do practicers should be polite and show consideration for others.
  • Integrity – Integrity describes how one interacts with others, to be honest and good, and to earn respect and trust.
  • Perseverance – This stands for one’s internal drive. Challenges allow people to improve themselves and should not be avoided.
  • Self Control – To have control of one’s body and mind. A Tae kwon do student should practice controlling his actions and reactions.
  • Indomitable Spirit – To have courage in the face of adversity. A Tae kwon do student should never be dominated by or have his spirit broken by another.  

Black Belt Academy Tae kwon do Master Brian Laban (Hopi/ Tewa) is the program instructor. Beginning 1998 on the Hopi Reservation, he has taught over 1,000 students ranging in age from 5 to 68. He coached the Arizona Tae kwon do team at the North American Indigenous Games in Denver in June, 2006, and has been selected to coach the 2008 team. Greatly accomplished in Tae kwon do, Laban also cofounded the Native American Fitness Council in Flagstaff and was recognized for his work by being selected as one of the Community Champions for Navajo Area, 2007, in February. Besides focusing on coordination, strength, balance, speed, agility, and flexibility, the academy fosters self-awareness and respect to promote healthy decisions. Laban uses simple life experiences to demonstrate the concepts and exercises as they apply to other areas of life. For example, to show excellence and dedication, participants are asked to bring their school report cards to class to show their performances outside of the martial arts fitness program.   

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