Kids Action Initiative (KAI)
Kids Action Initiative, a division of Bridgewater Martial Arts (BMA), was founded six years ago to provide physical activity and potential therapy for children with autism and other developmental disorders.
Professor John Hatfield, owner and head instructor of BMA, was also a full-time adolescent psychiatric nurse at a local hospital. After seeing an increase of autism admissions at the hospital, Professor Hatfield was inspired to find a solution. He started brainstorming ways to curb the problem.
Fortunately, Professor Hatfield didn’t have to look too far for some answers; he suspected the values of the dojo and the principles of Kempo karate could have a powerful positive impact on the symptomology associated with autism.
After consulting with some local clinicians and doing further research, Professor Hatfield modified his typical karate program for children with autism. While much of the karate techniques, exercises, and stretches stayed the same, Professor Hatfield added question and answer activities, lots of counting, and simple one-step-at-a-time instructions.
The results were better than anticipated. The biggest sign of KAI’s success is the fact that, after a while, KAI students are often able to transition into the typical karate program.
The staff at BMA/KAI continues to seek the professional advice of several clinicians and doctors. Many local educators and physicians are now recommending Bridgewater Martial Arts to their patients, and, after six years, with more in-depth study, the program has transformed into a serious holistic and therapeutic program helping dozens of children and teenagers.