POOLER, GA (WTOC) - Martial Arts can be an activity for all ages and for people of all abilities. Wednesday’s WTOC Hometown Heroes who teach karate - and lessons in equality.
“We try to make it so everyone is accepted. That’s something that, unfortunately in our world, is not common,” said Carson Fortner, Owner, Pooler Karate.
The martial arts training center has roughly 300 students ranging from toddlers to seniors, including dozens for whom this is their only invitation to participate in a sport.
"We have about 70 special needs kids. Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and we have some of the classes with everyone else and then we have a lot of one-on-one."
However the training is administered, the lessons are similar for all students.
“It’s a good amount of exercise,” said Isaiah Powers, Pooler Karate Student. “And it also helps me out with things I face at home. It increases my self esteem and stuff like that. I like the karate itself. It’s helped me get better control of myself and become a better person."
“I also especially love how Pooler Karate treats everyone equally,” said Brett Davis, Pooler Karate Student.
Pooler Karate parents showed their appreciation recently with a special presentation to the staff and nominating them to be WTOC’s Hometown Heroes.
“Brett started classes about seven months ago, and I have never seen a student so happy in my life to be here,” said Darla Pattison, Brett Davis' mother. “We attend three to four nights a week, including the Saturday, and we are energetic and ready to go when it comes to this and being part of this team.”
That team philosophy will continue to apply to everyone at Pooler Karate.
“When they come in here, they feel like they’re part of something big and I think that’s why the enjoy it so much because I want all my kids to know that’s just the norm. It’s not something different, there are no kids that are different.”
The folks at Pooler Karate have become so popular that they will soon be relocating to a new facility five times the size of their current studio. The new location will be 811 South Rogers Street in Pooler.