06 Aug #MyExceptionalStory: Neo Marcos
Going into sophomore year of High School, Neo has a unique drive and motivation to contribute to his community. Through E-Karate, Neo has been able to grow as a martial artist, and have impact on children who participate in the class. E-Karate is a weekly martial arts program focused on including children with varying abilities, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down Syndrome. Through stretches, warm ups and drills, children who are considered “typical” and children with special needs can grow in their martial arts skills, and develop their friendships with one another.
Although Neo is just an assistant coach at E-Karate, the positive energy that he brings every week is unrivaled. Throughout the hour of the program, you will find Neo leading a drill, encouraging children, or partnering up with kids who are having difficulty participating in the class or completing a task. Apart from E-Karate, Neo is a black belt in Taekwondo, a Korean Martial Art focused on kicking. While learning and sharpening his skills outside of E-Karate, Neo comes to the program each week to share his skills.
“I’ve grown in learning Karate techniques (I primarily do Taekwondo) to be able to pass on what I learn to the students. Not only has E-karate helped me with the martial art, but with building close friendships there.”
While Neo has built many friendships through E-Karate, most noticeably this year, Neo’s impact on one of the children has drastically changed this child’s own experience at E-Karate. While this child was initially having difficulty participating and talking to other kids at the beginning of the fall session in August, Neo’s partnership with him throughout the year has allowed the child to open up. Through building a friendship with this child both inside and outside of E-Karate, Neo has been able to encourage this child to participate in class more and engage and communicate with the other children.
“E-karate has challenged me to be a better peer coach and to build friendships. Being around the people there is what gets the tight friendships going, with both students and instructors! [Recently], I have been able to help one student with his friendships by spending time outside of E-Karate with him. I would have never been able to watch Incredibles 2, a movie he loves, with him unless I started getting to know him at E-Karate!”
Neo will be attending E-Karate in the fall session at Redwood City, when it starts back up in September. Neo’s positive influence on the students and coaches around him will impact and shape E-Karate as it continues to grow.