by Nina Mariotti
Self-defense isn’t just something for the movies; it isn’t all about flying sidekicks and crazy moves. Self-defense is about protecting yourself, being aware, and staying safe. It is a skill that all people, especially women, should know. Last week on Tuesday, March 7, the Young Women’s Club at Branford High School held their very first self-defense class. Rachael Reed, a senior at BHS and a co-president Young Women’s club, organized the class as part of her capstone.
“After a friend brought the idea to my attention, I knew it was what I wanted to do for my senior project,” said Rachael. “I feel like a girl should always know how to keep herself safe. It had been on my mind a lot lately, especially since I’ll be going off to college on my own next year.”
That afternoon about 40 BHS students and teachers gathered in the gym to learn some self-defense. Bill Severino, a private self-defense instructor, taught the class along with two of his partners. The class was not about learning to fight; it focused a lot on avoiding situations where you would need to defend yourself. They encouraged the girls to always be aware of their surroundings, never to travel alone in unfamiliar places, and to always have a plan. In addition, they demonstrated how to free yourself when an attacker grabs you. The most important thing they stressed was to focus on ways to escape from a scary situation instead of attempting to fight off a larger opponent.
Aisha Khan, a senior at BHS, attended the workshop for the same reason Rachael created the class. “I’m going to college next year and I’m going to be in new places with new people. It’s exciting, but it’s scary. I wanted to learn self-defense to become strong, independent, and safe.”
Each girl paid $1 to attend the class; all the proceeds were used to purchase pajamas that will be donated to a local women’s shelter.
The Young Women’s self-defense class educated many BHS girls on how to be smart and how to protect themselves from harm. Just like their motto says, “Be as strong as you are beautiful!”