If you walked through the halls of Winthrop High School last Tuesday evening, you may have heard a lot of shouts, as several senior girls were learning to use their voices during a free self-defense class taught by the Winthrop Police Department.
The four-hour introductory course was designed to empower females and included a presentation on common situations, interactive lessons that taught escape methods and techniques to deter an aggressor, and videos depicting real-life scenarios.
“I loved taking this class, and I felt like it gave me a solid foundation not only for being safe in college but really in any environment,” said senior Faith Hunt. “I wanted to get a better understanding of how to protect myself against aggressors in all situations and be able to predict danger before it happens. Every woman or man should take a self-defense class, because unfortunately, we never know when we might need it.”
The class emphasized the importance of situational awareness and encouraged participants to free themselves from any type of distractions that could cause them to get caught off guard.
“This class is to empower the girls who are going off to college soon and even those who are not,” said School Resource Officer (SRO), Detective Dawne Armitstead. “The purpose of this course is to give some minimal tools and self-defense skills in case you should encounter a dangerous situation and to prevent a dangerous situation from getting out of control.”
Both girls and instructors suited up in protective gear and engaged in real-life scenarios, where they practiced punches, holds, hits, kicks, and letting go of the fear of using their voices.
“It’s dear to our hearts to teach young people how to be safe on the street,” said Kevin Janeilis, a personal safety self-defense instructor and former defense and tactical training instructor at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. “We want this to be a positive experience. We want to teach situational awareness, get students empowered, and help them gain confidence, and have fun doing it.”
The class was led by SRO Detective Dawne Armitstead, Officer Michael Connolly, and retired Captain of Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and Winthrop Harbor Master Kevin Janielis, as part of a police youth partnership. Winthrop Police was awarded a grant through the State Shannon Grant program to improve and build trusting relationships between police and the youth of the community. This is the first of several police-youth partnership events that will be conducted throughout the year.
Another self-defense class will be offered before the end of the school year. Interested students should contact: [email protected]