Connecting Body, Mind, and Spirit

“Tuesday has always been our happy day; this year, Wednesday was also special,” says Colbi Wayne, Guidance Counselor for Confluence Academy-Old North. Serving as Little Bit liaison at the school for the past eight years, Wayne has spent hundreds of Tuesdays – Little Bit “boutique days” – watching students shine in their new shoes or clothing from Little Bit, as well as light up with excitement during book fair days, STEM LINGO sessions, annual Laura’s Run 4 Kids, and all the other “wonderful things from Little Bit,” she says. For 10 Wednesdays this school year, she was able to see students transform through the iKarate Club Scholars and Warriors program, brought to Confluence by Little Bit and Centene Foundation.

Led by CEO and Founder Ali Moseia Jenkins, iKarate Club promotes physical fitness, mental discipline, awareness, self-confidence, and personal growth through the practice of karate. Teachings incorporate a mixture of martial arts techniques, mindful meditation, and positive self-talk. Through our new partnership with Centene Foundation, Little Bit was able to introduce the program to more than 430 students during the year.

“It was more than karate; it was understanding the connection between our mind, body, and spirit,” says Wayne. For the first 10-15 minutes of class, students would practice meditation and mindfulness, she says. “Master Ali even took them outside to understand how we can find positive energy through nature.”

The remaining time was spent learning karate skills, poses, and vocabulary, which Master Ali would quiz them on, and sometimes incorporated robotics to demonstrate motion and movement. “He taught the students that martial arts was not about harming people, but defending yourself and others, if necessary,” she says. “The point is to move yourself forward by grounding yourself in discipline, respect, and inner strength.”

Over the course of two different five-week courses, students from three different 2nd grade classrooms at Confluence built their own sense of community, “and it really changed them,” says Wayne. Quiet students opened up more – a hearing impaired student was fully engaged, she says – and teachers saw changes in behavior, with a decrease in discipline referrals.

“One student, who doesn’t have any positive relationships and has struggled to think positively of himself, started to mingle and talk with his classmates. He became a different kid,” she says. “We are blessed to have Little Bit and all of the programs and partnerships they bring to the Confluence community.”