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Karate Kids

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WSVN -- They are all different ages and sizes but these kids share one thing in common their love of karate.

Despite that love, many of them wouldn't normally get the chance to learn to punch and kick. That's because their parents say they couldn't afford karate lessons if it wasn't for this unique program.

Carlos Valdes: "I like the way they teach the kids. It's affordable."

It's all part of an after-school program at Abriendo Puertas, a community resource center in Little Havana. Once enrolled, the karate classes are free. Instructor Carlos Valdes understands what it's like not being able to afford a sport growing up that's why he teaches here where no child is turned away.

Carlos Valdes: "Having a place like this where any child from any type of income can just come here and do a sport I think that's very rewarding for them."

Carlos says karate teaches kids how to respect themselves and others, boosts their self-confidence and helps them overcome shyness.

Carlos Valdes: "They could walk down the streets proudly and protect themselves or their own families."

Lucy's son Jonathan has been taking karate for two years. She's noticed a big change in his behavior since he started.

Lucy Ramos: "Before he used to be quiet, now he's more talkative, more motivated, more moving and he shows his true self."

She says karate has raised his self-esteem and his grades.

Lucy Ramos: "He has improved in school, scores, classes, in everything, from a D he is now an A or B so he is doing very well in school."

8-year old Denzel not only loves the moves, he's learning but looks up to Carlos as a role model.

Denzel Garcia: "He's like an older brother to me because he's always helping me."

16-year -old albert says karate allows him to blow off steam in a constructive way and has taught him an invaluable life-lesson.

Albert Henry: "Through hard work, dedication and patience you can achieve almost anything."

Important to know Carlos says especially for many of these kids already fighting an uphill battle.

Carlos Valdes: "At the end of the day when I go to bed and put my head on the pillow, I always say wow I'm actually able to teach these kids something, guide them through these hard times."

Lynn Martinez: "Right now, the after school program only costs $15 a week and karate classes are free."

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Abriendo Puertas, Inc.1401 SW 1st StreetSuite 203-AMiami, FL 33135Tel: (305) 649-6449, ext. 226www.abriendopuertasfl.org

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