Sunday, February 15, 2009

Girl Scout Martial Artist Helps Special Needs People

To find the article on the site it appeared on, check it out here:
As a Girl Scout, soccer player, and member on the Varsity track team at West Morris Central High School, Erin Guida doesn’t have much time on her hands. But when she does, she enjoys balling them up into fists, punching them, and shouting out in Japanese.

“I started Karate when I was in the third grade,” says Guida, “and from the first time I saw it, I knew I wanted to do it.”

Attending Quest Karate on 59 East Mill Road, she’s been studying Isshinryu karate under her instructor, Tom Kately, almost as long as she’s been in the Girl Scouts, but not quite.

“My mom is the Girl Scout leader,” Guida says, “so I’ve been in the Girl Scouts since kindergarten.”

It was this passion for both the martial arts and the Girl Scouts that led her to carry on what she knew to the Matheny Medical and Educational Center, which is a place that helps special needs individuals with recreational activities. What the center does is help them in their physical, emotional, cognitive and social well-being.

And as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest award that a Girl Scout ages 14-18 can attain, she’ll be sponsoring a tournament hosted by Quest Karate as a fundraiser for Matheny on Saturday, February 22, at the Benedict A. Cucinella Elementary School.

“[For my Gold Award] I wanted to incorporate two huge aspects in my life—Karate and Metheny,” Guida says.

Guida, who has been going to Metheny ever since Quest Karate started going there in 2004, will be giving speeches for the tournament as part of her project. She hopes that the fundraiser will generate enough money to get new equipment for Methany.

“[Metheny] had to turn so many people away because we didn’t have enough equipment,” Guida says about what it was like when she first started going there, “and it has been so great to be able to help.”

The help she’s referring to is teaching the 23 students at Metheny who are taking martial arts, a way to protect themselves if they’re ever in danger, some of the students even in wheelchairs.

“I teach them katas, which are a series of blocks and punches,” Guida says, who admits that she was a bit nervous when she first started going there before she really started to open up to them, “[I also teach them to how] lift themselves up from their wheelchairs for their strength.”

The fundraiser for Metheny isn’t the first time that Guida has worked for her community, though.

For her Girl Scout’s Bronze Award, she created a dinner for senior citizens, and for her Silver Award, she created a series of games to help some of the younger scouts in her troop learn the ins and outs of things like camping and other Girl Scout activities.

That’s not all, though. In her spare time, she also teaches Karate to some of her younger scouts as well, teaching them all the way down from kindergarten up to her own age.

“I always volunteer whenever I can,” Guida says.

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