Great exercise for children: kickboxing

Luke Harman, 9

Luke Harman, aged nine when this interview took place, hasn't let visual impairment hold him back when it comes to kickboxing classes.

Luke suffers from Stickler syndrome, a rare genetic condition that can affect the eyes, ears and joints, and can cause cleft palate.

It's thought only 1 person in 10,000 is affected. Luke is blind in one eye and visually impaired in the other, and has some hearing impairment. His mum, Vivienne, who also has Stickler, is registered blind.

Since March, Luke has been going to the Actionnaires sports club for children in his hometown of Swindon, where he takes kickboxing classes with other visually impaired children. Actionnaires clubs are run by Action for Blind People.

"My dad's really cool," says Luke. "He's a kickboxing teacher, and he taught me some kickboxing moves before I started going to Actionnaires.

"I have loads of fun in class. We start with a warm-up, then we do our training. We do punches and kicks, and my favourite punch is the upper cut and my best kick is a knee strike. Then sometimes we do sparring. At the end, we do a cool-down.

"I've never thought that I couldn't do kickboxing because I'm visually impaired. I'd tell any blind person they could still do kickboxing and enjoy it, no matter how little vision they have."

Kickboxing boosts motivation

'Luke's confidence has been boosted big time since he started kickboxing. It's been brilliant for him'

Luke's Dad, Pete

Luke's father, Pete, teaches the Actionnaires kickboxing class, and says it's an inspiration to see the kids in action. "When I first started teaching the class, none of the kids knew anything about kickboxing," he says. "But now they love it. It's wonderful to see the looks on their faces when they're doing it. They really give it 110%.

"Luke's confidence has been boosted big time since he's been doing kickboxing. He had a spell when he was being bullied at school, but now he's not at all timid or standoffish.

"The club is really important to these kids. It gives them the chance to do things they otherwise wouldn't even dream of doing. It's been brilliant for Luke."

There are 25 Actionnaires sports clubs around the country. To find out more visit Action for Blind People: children, young people and families.

For more on Stickler syndrome, go to the Stickler Syndrome Support Group.

Page last reviewed: 16/01/2015

Next review due: 16/01/2017


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