Martial arts workout can help kids with disabilities

December 2, 2010 (LIBERTYVILLE, Ill.)

There are a number of martial arts programs adapted for children with disabilities. The NorthShore Academy of Martial Arts teaches traditional movements that are educational and, of course, fun.

The Chartier triplets are 13 years old and have been coming to NorthShore Academy of Martial Arts since they were 9. They all have cerebral palsy, says mom Peg.

"Spencer's cerebral palsy's the most involved," said Peg. "It involves both of his legs and his left arm, so he uses a walker when he's here at NSA. Jackson's cerebral palsy is mostly confined to his legs and you'll see some tightness. Corbin's cerebral palsy is the exact opposite, where he has some muscle weakness in his upper extremities."

Friends recommended martial arts to Peg.

"Their confidence has improved and their strength has improved, mostly Spencer, you can see he can lift his knees higher," said Peg. "He just holds his head higher. I think it just is a confidence building activity for the boys."

Olga Zorc's 9-year-old son Jackson also has cerebral palsy. He has been coming here since he was 5.

"It's been phenomenal for him, just he's really learned how to control his body, because he didn't have as much you know control of his lefts. He's learned how to control his core," Olga.

Owner and head instructor Marc Halleck is proud of these young students.

"They're our poster children for martial arts," said Halleck. "Spencer, Jackson-- both Jackson and Corbin. When they first came here they were falling down all the time. They didn't have good control of their bodies. They couldn't kick. Now we have Spencer walking around, Corbin and Jackson and the other Jackson, they're just running.".

Halleck and his staff have found ways to accommodate children with different disabilities.

"There's many ways to do the same techniques, so if someone can't do something one way we come up with different ways for them do to it," said Halleck.

Spencer says he is happy with his accomplishments.

"I'm almost to my black belt," said Spencer. The NorthShore Academy of Martial Arts is located in Libertyville. They offer programs for children and adults.

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