Sisters Unified Taekwondo held a belt test earlier this month. photo provided
Sisters Unified Taekwondo held a belt test earlier this month. photo provided

Ten Sisters youth tested for new belts in martial arts last week.

The youth are part of the Sisters Unified Taekwondo program, which serves 16 youth in Sisters schools, all of whom are on an individual education plan.

"They all have different challenges," said Sherri Hermans, a black belt who leads the program with assistance from other martial artists, including Master Dan Graff of High Desert Martial Arts. Black Belts Victoria Graves and Sarah Wilder, along with a soon-to-be black belt Kim Manley also assist with the program. Sisters Park & Recreation District allows the program to use its space.

"Without their support, without all the people, we couldn't do the program we're doing," Hermans said. "We're able to actually teach real taekwondo classes, because the (instructor-to-student) ratio is like 2-1, 3-1 with the kids. Each kid is on their own journey, but they're earning real belts in taekwondo."

The students stood at attention, and demonstrated ability to make low and high blocks and other aspects of the martial art, depending on their sill level and capability. Testing itself was an important achievement.

"I went through and made an individual (testing) sheet for each kid," Hermans, explained. "Actually having them test is a really good life skill."

The students were nervous about testing, and felt a sense of accomplishment in performing their work. And they were excited to have earned recognition.

"It's working," Hermans told The Nugget. "The kids are getting it."