In honour of two strong Aboriginal women and during NAIDOC Week 2020 (8-15 November) martial arts school Kumiai Ryu Weston Creek have awarded two youth scholarships to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
The two scholarships will enable one male and one female student aged between six and 11 years old to have access to two “Little Ninjas” karate classes per week.
Dojo manager Ben Newell said the scholarships had been in the making for a long time but had been put on hold during COVID-19.
“Being an Indigenous owned business, it is something we have thought about for a while now but we have recently moved into our Weston Creek location and have settled in there after 12 months,” he said.
“It was something we were looking at before that, and once we came back from COVID we had a few Aboriginal kids come in doing our intro classes and we thought what better time to start.”
Leearra Jamieson and Layton Seville, both about 10 years of age, were officially presented with the inaugural scholarships today, Wednesday 11 November.
The Merrell Wolfe and Kerry Reed Gilbert scholarships pay tribute to two strong Indigenous women with direct family lineage to instructor and dojo licence holder, Tash Newell.
“It was actually Sensei Tash’s idea, she realises the benefits of what martial arts can do and what it’s done for herself in the 18 years she has doing it,” Mr Newell said.
“She wanted to see that influence on other people who might be able to accept what she has taken out of it as well.”
Layton and Leearra were chosen by the staff at Kumiai Ryu Weston Creek, however, Mr Newall said in future it would be an open application process.
“They are both local kids that live in the Weston Creek area and before the last school holidays someone from Layton’s school called us and said he was interested in giving it a go,” he said, “while Leearra started training with us, and her sister and her mum train with us as well so we thought ‘why not’.”
Mr Newell said Kumiai Ryu had wanted to offer the scholarships to the younger age group, due to the positive impact of martial arts on concentration, discipline and leadership building in those early years.