The program kicked off on April 18 with an introduction session. Jennifer McKee, a community officer with the Cleveland Police Department and RAD instructor, talked about the importance of self-defense. Angie Falkner, director of the Family Violence Program at Harbor Safe House also shared about her organization, a shelter for victims of domestic and sexual violence and their children in Bradley and Polk Counties.
Each program participant at Life Care donated $25 to Harbor Safe House for the privilege of taking the classes, raising $425 for the community service.
“I believe this class teaches information and skills that every woman should know,” said McKee. “My prayer would be that no woman ever find herself in a dangerous situation, but I hope that by taking this class, these ladies are better prepared mentally and physically to defend themselves.”
RAD sessions last three hours each, meeting once a week over a period of four weeks. Women learn how to recognize and reduce potentially risky situations, as well as how to physically defend themselves against assault using martial arts techniques and other tactics.
“It was really empowering,” said Ashlee Waddle, corporate accountant. “We were given some easy ways to defend ourselves, like looking people directly in the eye to show we weren’t going to be a victim. And then there was the actual physical defense practice.”
During the May 23 final session at Life Care, the women practiced their skills in a drill against two local police officers. Each woman was given a realistic scenario in which she practiced how to defend herself.
“It was really stressful, but it was important because it really let you know what it feels like to be in that situation and made you think it through,” said Waddle.
“The RAD program is a blast to teach,” said McKee.
McKee said the Cleveland Police Department has three other instructors who teach RAD and radKIDS (which stands for Resisting Aggression Defensively, in this case) classes to children ages 3-12. They recently completed trial radKIDS classes in Cleveland City Schools and hope to bring the program to more schools soon.