Ottawa ON K1J 8W6
October 29, 2012
Overview:Helping At-Risk Youth Develop Character and Self-Defence Skills
What is the TAO Program?
The TAO Program (Tenacity-Attitude-Optimism) promotes community service through subsidizing the participation of low-income families, including youth at risk, to encourage the learning of traditional Taekwon-Do, including character development and contributing positively to the east Ottawa community. The students train at Johnson’s Taekwon-Do, located at the Cyrville Community Centre. Of Cyrville’s population of 15,000, 17.8% are from low-income families.
What is Taekwon-Do?
Taekwon-Do is a self-defence martial art that originated in Korea in the mid-twentieth century and which came to Canada more recently. It is taught in schools and community centres across the country. The aim is to help develop people with disciplined minds and bodies, capable of defending themselves and committed to improving their community.
Why is the TAO Program needed?
Many young people face challenges related to poverty and their home and school environments. Taekwon-Do helps equip students with the skills they need mentally and physically to defend themselves. Taekwon-Do is a confidence-builder as well as an outlet for releasing stress. Taekwon-Do offers a level playing field where students train at their own pace and in a very supportive environment.
What is special about the TAO Program?
It gives back to the local community by helping mentally and physically strengthen at-risk youth. In 2010, some students and parents at Johnson’s Taekwon-Do banded together to launch an opportunity that would allow those who meet the Government of Canada “Low-Income Cutoff” definition to take Taekwon-Do. The TAO Program, run by a 10-person volunteer board of directors, pays up to 100% of the training fees. The amount of subsidy is decided on a case-by-case basis depending on the student’s needs as indicated on an application form. So far, 7 students (adults and children) have received subsidies for training.
What is the link between the TAO Program and Johnson’s Taekwon-Do?
The TAO Program’s volunteer board members are students, parents and assistant instructors who have long been involved with Johnson’s Taekwon-Do, a school established by Instructor Rudy Johnson (5th degree black belt, International Taekwon-Do Federation) in 1992. The school has operated primarily out of City of Ottawa community centres (Cyrville since 2006), which keeps the costs down for both the instructor and his students. Hundreds of people have been trained; class sizes average 35 children and 25 adults.
How is the TAO Program funded?
The TAO Program (volunteer board and students) conducts fundraising activities, such as car washes, movie nights, bake sales, demonstrations and an annual dinner auction. Since 2010, more than $5,000 has been raised. The funds pay for Johnson’s Taekwon-Do’s training fees, which are either just below or on par with the training fees of other Taekwon-Do schools in the Ottawa area at $70/month or $190/3 month.
How will the Aviva Community Fund help?
Funding will subsidize more at-risk youths from low-income families to take Taekwon-Do – from 7 to 25 a year, with the majority being youths. No money is kept for administration. The subsidy is maintained for low-income students if the TAO Program has sufficient funds. Not all applicants seek 100% subsidy; however, if all 25 did, it would cost $19,000 a year. Aviva’s funds would be devoted to the youth contingent only.