Last Updated on May 3, 2017 by Rachael Kraft
Using Unique Concepts to Teach Young Students Fitness and Character Education
Kirk Farber saw a common pattern during his 10-years of volunteering with incarcerated 14-17 year old boys. Many of these young men did not have a father-figure or mentor that could help teach them right from wrong.
To help fix this problem at its root, he created the FACE (Fitness and Character Education) program for elementary kids in 2003. This dynamic program combines fitness education with character building, self-esteem, and confidence exercises to teach children how to be successful leaders.
The FACE4Kids program has helped over 25,000 elementary students in 50 different schools throughout Florida since its inception. The program is offered for FREE to public schools, with all sessions during the school day.
He ‘Edu-tains’ with key program principles like Respect, Helping, Sharing, Focus, and Fun. From there, he returns for smaller sessions with hand-picked students that could most benefit from the program. During each session, the kids use martial arts to work on balance and coordination, jump rope and juggling to work on timing and coordination, and animal games for agility training and conditioning. While fitness is essential, character building is priceless!
“My favorite part is speaking on a different word each week,” Kirk explained in a video on the FACE website. “For example, we talk about the words ‘Friends.’ I say, ‘Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.’” Kids learn about a different word each week and practice public speaking to build up their confidence.
On the 8th week, students attend a graduation where they receive awards. Every student can earn a reward as long as they attend 75% of the sessions, do their homework, and avoid any disciplinary referrals. Kirk is trying to teach the children that they can control their own actions or words.
Kirk has a deep connection with the martial arts he uses in the FACE program. He began training when he was just 5 years old and now focuses on the Vietnamese Cuong Nhu oriental martial arts style. “The founder of this style was O’Sensei Ngo Dong,” Kirk explained. “He truly was a master. He was not only the president of a college and a professional musician, and the founder of this style, but he influenced me very much, along with many others, in terms of the philosophy…That style taught me about giving back to the community.”
The greatest successes for FACE come when the organizers see the smiles on the faces of the kids. They enjoy seeing how the young lives can be transformed. Kirk also enjoys when the kids come up to thank him and he can know that he’s made a difference in their lives. “I have one of the best jobs, knowing I can make a difference.”
If you are interested in getting involved with the efforts of the FACE program, check out their website. You can donate, become a partner, or sponsor a program. Even something as simple as making an Amazon purchase through their donation link can help. Learn more below:
FACE: Fitness and Character Education
Duval County, Florida