ODESSA, TX (KWES) - October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Matthews Martial Arts in Odessa has taken the fight against bullying personally. They want to prevent it, all year long.
"One out of four kids are troubled with bullying. 160,000 kids a day miss school because of bullying and it affecting their studies and wanting to go to school," said Sigung Dustin Mathews.
These statistics are the reason Matthews Martial Arts offers free, youth empowerment workshops or anti-bullying training.
"It teaches victims of bullying how to stand up to a bully, report it, or, if need be, how to defend themselves if they are physically attacked," Matthews explained.
According to Matthews, "Our goal is to encourage. Get our confidence high and build some self-respect to where the kids are happy to be themselves."
12-year-old Trent Avary was a victim of bullying. His mother insisted he sign up for the workshop.
"Whenever someone gets bullied, that can really knock them down. And sometimes, that causes things to happen, like suicide and stuff like that. So, they need to know that they can protect their self when they're walking through the hallway," Trent said.
Trent has been taking martial arts classes for four months. They have already done wonders for him.
"It's helped me be who I am, more. I know, if anything happens, I have that self-defense knowledge to help protect myself. So I'm more confident and I can stand up to more of the bullies, than I did last year, when I was having a lot of trouble," he explained.
Trent said he can use what he's learned to help other bullying victims.
"It's come very easy to me and the people here are very supportive," he added.
The workshops are presented in a fun environment. Sigung and his staff want the kids to feel comfortable, safe and be able to learn.
"They can really feel excited to train, excited to be themselves and that's really what we want to encourage is to get them in here, hit those mats, feel like they can ask questions, and, I guess, be real with us," said Matthews.
To learn more about these Youth Empowerment Workshops, call Matthews Martial Arts in Odessa at (432) 664-6762 or stop by 818 Maple Avenue.