Students from the Parkland Secondary School Judo Academy were treated to a visit from a special guest last Wednesday.
On Nov. 21, Tim Rees, who represented Canada during the London 2012 Paralympic games, paid a visit to the school’s Judo Academy and showed students some of his expert moves.
Rees, a world-class judoka, suffers from rod cone dystrophy which is a rare form of macular degeneration.
The disease has rendered Rees legally blind.
During his visit to Parkland, Rees showed students from the Judo Academy, the first of its kind in Western Canada, some tips and tricks on improving their technique. The academy, which is included in the students’ timetables as a course, is in its first year of operation.
“The response from the students has been amazing,” said academy organizer Mickey Fitzgerald. “I ran it as an after-school club since 1989 but to have it incorporated into the timetable was great.”
Fitzgerald runs the class with the help of a handful of other teachers and volunteers. Fitzgerald, who has been studying judo since he was 10 years old, is a blackbelt and credits judo as the thing that kept him on track as a teen.
“Judo is what kept me on the straight and narrow when I was a kid,” he said. “The mentorship and dedication it took kept me out of trouble and I started the club for the same reason.”
The judo academy allows students to achieve four credits for the course as well as an additional four physical education credits each year they are enrolled, explained Parkland visual arts teacher and judo enthusiast, Andre Gogol.
“We try and get the students out on the mats at least three days a week with two days of classroom theory,” said Gogol.
Gogol also added that students who enroll in the judo academy have an opportunity to work towards coach training with the National Coaching Certification Program.
“What we hope is that we have a constant turnover of students who go through the academy and can come back to show new students where the training can take them.”
The application process for the 2013/14 academy will begin in the spring. For more information visit parklandjudoacademy.ca.