Dr. Clifford Thomas is dedicated to serving the Town of Bladensburg. On Monday, November 18, at a televised Town Council meeting, two town government staff members and two Police Department officers were given his Leading By Example Award to honor them for their strong and consistent leadership and the good examples they set for the town's residents by providing outstanding services that contribute to making the community safe and promoting a positive environment. Their work underscores the many years of mutual support between We Lead By Example, Inc., and the Town of Bladensburg and highlights the partnerships that have been created.
Shown in the photo are recipients Town Treasurer Vito Tinelli, Mayor Takisha James, and Councilmember Cristian Mendoza (Ward I) and outgoing Councilmember Selwyn Bridgeman (Ward II) [back row, from left to right]; and Councilmember Carletta Lundy (Ward II), Roger (Shaun) Rinehart (Code Enforcement Supervisor), Captain Tyrone Collington, Sr. (Deputy Chief, Police Department), Officer Cedrick Tanksley (C.O.P.S. Unit, Police Department), and Susan McCutchen [front row, left to right].
Dr. Clifford Thomas, President and CEO, and Ms. Susan McCutchen, of We Lead By Example, Inc., joined Maryland state elected officials in honoring Ms. Renee Green for her work associated with saving Bladensburg's World War I memorial, often referred to as "Peace Cross," on Monday, October 21. The five-year struggle between the American Humanist Association objecting to a monument in the shape of a cross sitting on public land and local residents supporting the non-religious uses of the war monument to honor veterans became a national issue. The Supreme Court, in a 7 to 2 ruling, determined that the monument could remain where it is located in the summer of 2019. The historical monument will now be repaired and restored.
The news story is found in The Enquirer-Gazette at this link. The text of the story is included below for those who are unable to read the full article online.
Bladensburg 'Peace Cross' supporter honored
Several Maryland elected officials and representatives presented documentarian Renee Green with official citations in recognition of her work to save the Bladensburg World War I memorial often referred to as the “Bladensburg Peace Cross.”
Presenters included Amanda Allen from the office of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R), Sen. Malcolm Augustine (D-Prince George’s), Delegates Diana Fennell and Wanika Fisher (both D-Prince George’s), Prince George’s Councilwoman Jolene Ivey (D-Dist. 5) and Dr. Clifford Thomas. The Town of Bladensburg will present a proclamation to Green, head of the town’s Patriotic Committee, at an upcoming annual November Veterans Day event at the Peace Cross.
The Bladensburg Peace Cross was erected on public land in 1925 by the American Legion to commemorate the 49 servicemen from Prince George’s County who died during World War I, according to Maryland Historical Trust documents.
The cross stands on a highway median maintained by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. In 2014, the Washington, D.C.,-based American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of three local members, alleging that the 40-foot cross, a recognized Christian symbol, standing on public land violates the Constitutional protections on freedom of religion, and asked the court to move the cross to private land or modify it into a nonreligious shape. The case eventually wound its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Green was heavily involved in efforts to preserve the Bladensburg Peace Cross. After the legal challenge from the American Humanist Association, she and her colleagues researched the rich history of the Peace Cross and began to film segments of a documentary to bring that history to the nation’s attention. The documentary was featured as part of the Supreme Court case record.
Green spearheaded efforts to promote the Bladensburg Peace Cross to the residents of Maryland and beyond. She researched the history of the 49 veterans named on the monument’s plaque and reached out to family members still in the area.
Her work helped elevate the cause to a national level and countless elected officials eventually were prompted to write and speak out in support of saving the Peace Cross. Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Peace Cross’ supporters, stating that as an historic monument, it served secular purposes in the community.
Dr. Clifford Thomas appreciates the many years of mutual support between We Lead By Example, Inc., and the Town of Bladensburg and the strong partnership that has resulted. On Monday, October 21, at a televised Town Council meeting, he and Ms. Susan McCutchen awarded his Leading By Example Award to several Town Council and staff members for their strong and consistent leadership and the good examples they set for the youth in our community. Recipients, shown in the photo, include Mayor Takisha James; Councilmembers Lois Dorsey (Ward II), Carletta Lundy (Ward II), and Cristian Mendoza (Ward I); Diane Griffin, Town staff who plans and organizes many community activities; and Jocelyn Route (Ward I councilmember-elect), who has already been setting a good example through her many youth-centered activities.
Pictured in the photo, from left to right, are Ms. McCutchen, Ms. Griffin, Councilmember Mendoza, Mayor James, Dr. Thomas, Councilmember Lundy, and Councilmember-elect Route.
Youth student M. Hanson did Dr. Thomas proud as the featured performer at the Mount Rainier Multicultural Festival and Health Fair on Saturday, September 28. He did a great job showing several open-hand katas and examples of how children should react when someone tries to induce them to allow themselves to be abducted. Everyone was impressed at his confidence and ability to perform solo in front of festival and health fair attendees. Mr. Hanson's mother got into the act, as well as adult brown-belt S. McCutchen, demonstrating a few simple self-defense tips for adults. Dr. Thomas spoke about the urgent need for practical instruction about bullying prevention and child safety in elementary schools, something that has been woefully lacking, and about the Ramblers' upcoming October 5 Fifth Annual Walk and Rally for Bullying Prevention and Child Safety. A hot day, yes, but a good day for the Ramblers!
Dr. Thomas is very proud of R. Barragan, P. Buckson, G. Flores, M. Hanson, A. Palacios, H. Spence, L. Villatoro, and black-belt instructor A. Seemangal, who performed at the 23rd Annual Port Towns Day on Saturday, September 21. To the delight of the large audience, they demonstrated some of their martial arts skills and a few open-hand forms. As always, we look forward to this exciting annual event, filled with music, dancing, and good food and other types of vendors.
On Saturday, September 14, Rambler students G. Flores, A. Palacios, and J. Turpin, led by black-belt instructor A. Seemangal, performed at Bladensburg's Mexican Independence and Central America Independence Day. They demonstrated some of their martial arts skills, including performing several katas. This event, sponsored by Bladensburg Councilmember Cristian Mendoza, combines two significant historic dates on which several nations declared independence from Spain. Mexican Independence Day marks September 16, 1810, when Father Miguel Hidalgo y Castilla urged Mexicans to rise up against the Spanish-born ruling class. Central America Independence Day marks September 15, 1821, when the leaders of five Central American nations--Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua--accepted a plan drafted by the Mexican Agustin de Iturbide, declaring the five nations free from Spain. The Ramblers appreciated being invited to this important community event and look forward to returning next year.
Global Health and Education Projects, Inc., celebrated its fifth Annual HEEA Day Community Picnic celebrating Health, Environmental Education and Awareness Day for 2019. This organization does important work in the community, including tree planting and environmental and health education. They use this occasion to focus on educating adults and especially children, who are our future. This year, they had many fun activities lined up for the entire family. These included a dance competition, prizes/gifts, field exercises, a Chesapeake Bay knowledge check, learning how to eat and live healthily, asthma education, a save-the-environment pledge, face painting, assorted foods, drinks, music, what about trees, and lots more. Youth and adult Rambler students demonstrated some basics, empty-hand and weapon forms, and simple self-defense moves. Dr. Thomas thanks A. Banks-Jones, C. Buckson, P. Buckson, R. Ennis, M. Hanson, Da. Jenifer, De. Jenifer, N. Jenifer, and A. Palacios for coming out to perform. We appreciated being invited again this year and look forward to partnering with the GHEP in the future.
Dr. Clifford Thomas and Ms. Susan McCutchen represented We Lead By Example, Inc., at Senator Joanne C. Benson's (District 24) Annual Bull Roast. Senator Benson has been a longtime supporter of the work being done by our organization and has participated in several of our activities. We sincerely thank her for all she has done for us.
Uncaptioned photos taken by photojournalist Bobby Jones. See his linked article for the descriptive captions.
Scanned, captioned photo taken by Michael A. McCoy, freelance photographer.
The event was reported by award-winning photojournalist Bobby Jones, Andrews Gazette, in a November 14 article entitled "Fourth Annual Walk and Rally for ‘Bullying Prevention’ and Child Safety engage community support" in SoMdNews (Southern Maryland Newspapers Online).
Michael A. McCoy's Capture the Momentphoto appears on page 10 of the November 15 Washington Informer.
We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems students performed at the 22nd annual Port Towns Day on Saturday, October 6. The Ramblers are an enduring feature of Port Towns Day and always look forward to participating in this and other local community events. Youth students N. Alarcon, M. Hanson, D. Jenifer, M. Hanson, A. Palacios, D. Ramos, M. Smith, and H. Spence, and adult student R. Smith performed basics, open-hand forms, and several self-defense moves that could be used by people of any age to try to escape from an attacker.
For a second year, Mount Rainier Nature and Recreational Center invited We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems to partner with them by performing at their Multicultural Festival and Health Fair on Saturday, September 29. A. Seemangal, our newest black belt, led youth students C. Buckson, P. Buckson, M. Hanson, and A. Palacios, and adult student A. Banks-Jones, as they performed basics, open-hand forms, and weapons forms. Dr. Thomas spoke about our program and his concern about the safety of students returning to school. Children need to be taught reinforced situational awareness training to learn how to protect themselves, whether from bullying or child sexual abuse or other forms of harrassment.
On Tuesday, July 17, Dr. Thomas and three of his advanced-belt students provided a safety and self-defense seminar for a group of young ladies as part of a free summer school hosted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, MD. The IRC serves refugees and asylees who have been forced to flee their homes due to violent persecution and war to help them as they relocate and adjust to life in the United States.
On Tuesday, July 17, Dr. Thomas and three of his advanced-belt students provided a safety and self-defense seminar for a group of young ladies as part of a free summer school hosted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, MD. The IRC serves refugees and asylees who have been forced to flee their homes due to violent persecution and war to help them as they relocate and adjust to life in the United States. The primary focus of the Seton summer school program is to help students overcome gaps in their education to be able to achieve academic success in the local high schools they will attend in the 2018-2019 school year. The IRC invited Dr. Thomas to teach this extracurricular class to educate these teenagers on how to be street smart and confident as they cope with difficult situations that may arise as they navigate a new multicultural milieu. Dr. Thomas and his students engaged the teenagers in an interactive session they thoroughly enjoyed, as did he and his students. He showed them several simple physical self-defense moves and addressed ways to react to individuals who may approach them in a hostile manner in different kinds of situations to protect themselves. Dr. Thomas was pleased to be a part of this important program that aligns with our organization's mission--to develop confident, successful leaders by promoting personal safety and security, as well as to build high moral standards that reflect acceptance and respect for all cultures--and looks forward to collaborating with the IRC in future endeavors.
The IRC Silver Spring Facebook posting follows:
"IRC CONNECT Summer Academy 2018 is off to a great start! This past week, a group of our girls found new confidence and strength through self-defense. Bartman MMA, Relson Gracie Association and We Lead By Example, Inc. graciously donated their time to lead our girls through empowering programs, equipping them with skills and tactics to safely navigate their new communities. We finished off the week focusing on the power of mindfulness, learning some new yoga poses and reflecting through meditation. If you or your organization are interested in supporting our students, reach out to our Out of School Specialist at Lindsay.Dusard@rescue.org."
We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems students were pleased to have been invited to participate in and perform at the Rogers Heights Elementary School Youth Resource Day on Saturday, May 19. Our organization offers positive activities for students in the local area as do other organizations involved in this event. As part of his curriculum, Dr. Thomas encourages his students to be involved in community activities such that they will feel a sense of belonging, become part of a "village," and not succumb to the lure of negative entities such as gangs. His students performed basics, open-hand forms, and weapons forms. They also demonstrated simple self-defense children could use to escape from an attacker or avoid being molested or abducted by a child sexual abuser. Children should not be taught to be afraid of everyone; however, they should have reinforced situational awareness training to learn how to protect themselves.
We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems students performed at the 21st annual Port Towns Day on Saturday, September 16. Residents and friends of the Port Towns came out to enjoy the different types of wares and the good food and tasty treats for sale at vendor tables and stations, and the rides and other fun activities, including boat and pony rides, plus the informational materials offered by organizations at their tables. The Ramblers are an enduring feature of Port Towns Day and always look forward to participating in this and other local community events. Adult student A. Bruno and youth students E. Giron, A. and E. Hernandez, E. Hernandez, D. Jenifer, A. Martinez, E. Martinez, J. and J. Powell, A. Seemangal, M. Smith, and K. Taylor performed basics, open-hand forms, and weapons forms. His advanced students demonstrated a few self-defense moves that could be used by people of any age to try to escape from an attacker. Dr. Thomas is very concerned about the safety of students returning to school. He spoke about bullying and child sexual abuse prevention, and he and his students demonstrated how youth should react to people who invite them to sit on their laps and attempt to lure them with bribes such as candy, money, tickets to a concert, and threats. They should not be taught to be afraid of everyone; however, they should have reinforced situational awareness training to learn how to protect themselves. All in all, a great day in our neighborhood, the Port Towns!
Mount Rainier Nature and Recreational Center invited We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems to partner with them by performing at their Multicultural Festival and Health Fair on Saturday, September 9. Youth students M. Hanson, D. Jenifer, A. Martinez, A. and C. Ngansi, J. and J. Powell, A. Seemangal, M. Smith, and J. Taylor performed basics, open-hand forms, and weapons forms. For those who use a cane, how to ward off an assailant with that weapon was also demonstrated. Dr. Thomas is very concerned about the safety of students returning to school. He spoke about bullying and child sexual abuse prevention, and he and his students demonstrated how youth should react to people who invite them to sit on their laps and attempt to lure them with bribes such as candy, money, tickets to a concert, and threats. Children also should be aware of the danger posed by people who want to pull them close and hug them and need to learn how to react for their own safety. They should not be taught to be afraid of everyone; however, they should have reinforced situational awareness training to learn how to protect themselves.
Global Health and Education Projects (GHEP), Inc., hosted its third annual Health, Environmental Education and Awareness (HEEA) Day and Riverdale Community Picnic in Riverdale, Maryland, on Saturday, July 22. Despite the intensely hot and humid day that whipped into an unexpectedly violent thunderstorm in the afternoon, HEEA Day and the picnic was a very nice event. Everyone enjoyed good food and beverages and learned a lot. Mayor Alan Thompson and Councilmember David Lingua of Riverdale Park, Maryland, in addition to GHEP Executive Director Romuladus Azuine, presided over the opening ceremonies. Presentations included hands-on CPR/AED and pulsepoint application training; asthma and the environment and the practical use of medication and spacers; financial services and community development (TD Bank); and new, healthier products for women and men. The Ramblers gave a great performance but were rudely interrupted by the storm. We appreciated being invited again this year and look forward to partnering with the GHEP in the future. The organization does good work in the community and important information is shared about health and the environment at its events.
Bladensburg Community Center hosted a Family Fitness Night on Wednesday, January 25. Rambler students T. Davis, E. Giron, E. Hernandez, K. Hogue, A. Jackson, C. Jackson, N. Jackson, D. Jenifer (older), D. Jenifer (younger), A. Ngansi, C. Ngansi, A. Palacios, M. Senatus, H. Spence, and K. Taylor came out to demonstrate a few open-hand forms, weapons forms, and other martial arts skills. Several youth in the audience got into the action and learned how to roll to avoid being hurt if pushed down or falling or to escape as well as a few self-defense moves. Dr. Thomas was pleased to have been asked to showcase his students and his affordable classes that are held in eight-week sessions throughout the year.
What an outstanding 20th annual celebration at Port Towns Day on Saturday, September 17! Revelers gathered on this last Saturday of the summer to appreciate the rich and complex multiracial, multicultural, and multigenerational fabric of the Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, and Edmonston communities. Local residents and other visitors were treated to an endless variety of great foods, information and vendor tables, entertainment (singers, dancers, bands), and other fun activities. The Rambler students and families who came out to support this community event and represent the Ramblers enjoyed the festivities and the good weather. Dr. Thomas thanks students A. Hernandez, E. Hernandez (younger), E. Hernandez (older), K. Hogue, D. Jenifer, A. Martinez, A. Palacios, M. Rudd, M. Senatus, M. Smith, H. Spence-Romero, and J. Tolver for performing basics, open-hand forms, and weapons forms for the appreciative crowd gathered at the Pavilion Stage. Check out the official YouTube video of the event at this link and look for the Ramblers midway through.
It's already time for the start of the 2016 - 2017 school year! On Saturday, August 20, New Dimensions Church in Lanham, Maryland, hosted a back-to-school event. Dr. Thomas' youth students D. Cabrera, D. Jenifer, M. Hernandez, A. Palacios, J. Payne, and M. Smith gave a demonstration of martial arts skills and also showed a few ways that children (or adults) can defend themselves in bullying and potential child sexual abuse situations. Free bookbags and school supplies were provided for students who came to the festival. A number of vendors distributed a variety of important information for children and parents and gave out free samples. Health screenings were offered. Attendees feasted on free hot dogs, corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, chips, and watermelon, not to mention cotton candy and other goodies, as well as beverages. Some of our students even availed themselves of free haircuts! This was a good way to kick off the new year.
Led by Dr. Clifford Thomas, youth students A. Hernandez, E. Hernandez (brown belt), E. Hernandez (white belt), E. Martinez, A. Palacios, and A. Seemangal, and adult student J. Adease performed at Silver Spring Civic Building on Saturday, August 12, at DB Consulting, Inc.'s 10th Annual Health and Wellness Fair. Despite the temperature (upper 90s with heat index over 100), the Ramblers braved the heat and wowed the audience with a demonstration of martial arts skills/self-defense drills and open-hand and weapons forms. This is the second year the Ramblers have come out for this fair and they look forward to doing it again next year.
We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems participated for the second year in the GHEP annual health fair on Saturday, May 14. The Ramblers performed an exciting show of basic techniques, open-hand katas, weapons katas, and board-breaking by several students. We certainly drew a crowd! We join the GHEP in its commitment in addressing health and education issues in Prince George's County and bring our own longstanding commitment to county (and statewide) residents to the table by providing safety and self-defense for children and adults of all ages. Read all about it in Bobby Jones' article in the May 20 Andrews Gazette; the e-edition (with additional photos) can be found at this link.
On Saturday, April 30, a group of Dr. Thomas' students, new and more seasoned, did a bang-up job showing their martial arts skills in drills, open-hand and weapons forms, and dynamic board-breaking by children of various ages. The Ramblers are invited to participate in this celebration every year and they always look forward to the opportunity to show support for their community.
Led by second-brown belt E. Hernandez, Ramblers D. and D. Jenifer, A. Martinez, A. Palacios, D. Romero, and H. Spence-Romero performed for a crowd of about 100 health fair participants. This was the first health fair at Gateway and will be a great annual event. The students showed basics and performed empty-hand and weapons katas, including using a bo and a cane. The Ramblers enjoyed this fun and well-organized fair and look forward to being invited back next year. Pictures are posted on the News Photos page.
Led by first-brown belt A. Seemangal, Ramblers A. Hornberger, D. and D. Jenifer, A. Martinez, A. Mendez, A. Palacios, D. Romero, and H. Spence-Romero performed for a crowd of about 100 Port Towns Day celebrants. This event is a community tradition and one for the Ramblers organization as well. The students showed basics and performed empty-hand and weapons katas, including using a bo and a cane. We always look forward to coming out for this event that brings together the Port Towns--Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, and Edmonston. Check out the official YouTube video of the event at this link and look for the Ramblers' demonstration near the end of the video.
Dr. Thomas gave an abbreviated bullying prevention demonstration at Francis Scott Key Elementary School's Back to School Community Fair on Saturday, August 22. This school is one of four located inside the Beltway that is designated to receive assistance from Senator Joanne Benson's Prince George's County Education Coalition. As a member of this coalition, Dr. Thomas will provide a series of in-depth, interactive bullying prevention seminars for the students throughout the 2015-2016 school year.
On Friday, August 7, the Ramblers represented at the ninth annual health and wellness fair sponsored by the DB Consulting Group, Inc., and Lux Consulting Group, Inc. Over 200 people attended this event at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Tae kwon do, tai chi, zumba, chair massage, fitness assessment and training, and more were featured activities. School supplies were given away to all school-age children, sounds were provided by DJ Lady Smooth of Smooth Entertainment, and a firetruck and McGruff were onsite. Voter registration for both DC and Maryland residents was offered. Testing and screening for back-to-school youths as well as adults, including immunizations, STD testing, dental screenings, CPR instruction, WIC information, osteoporosis testing, BPI testing, high blood pressure testing, HIV testing, and much more took place. Youth Rambler students of varying belt levels demonstrated basics and open-handed and weapons forms for the enjoyment of the large crowd. Dr. Thomas, adult student S. McCutchen, and some of the youth students also performed in a demonstration of simple self-defense and scams that was directed toward seniors. Both demonstrations were well-received and brought positive attention to our organization. Dr. Thomas would like to thank J. Gamero, L. Gamero, A. Hernandez, E. Hernandez, A. Hornberger, A. Martinez, E. Martinez, O. Olowe, A. Palacios, D. Romero, K. Romero, and A. Seemangal and their families who came out on a Friday (some parents taking leave from their jobs) to showcase their martial arts skills and become involved in their community. The students who participated enjoyed the great weather and will benefit from the bag of school supplies they brought home!
Photos/Slideshow: Photos posted on our News Photos page.
We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems was pleased to partner with Global Health and Education Projects, Inc. (GHEP) (both members of the People for Change Coalition) to help inaugurate the First Annual HEEA Day and Community Picnic. HEEA Day is a one-day, community-wide program with fun-filled outdoor events to build community cohesion and increase citizen awareness on the relationship between poor environmental quality and widening disparities in health outcomes through elevated health risks, such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, childhood developmental deficiencies, and poor educational outcomes culminating in deleterious overall public health outcomes. About 20 Rambler youth students performed basics, open-hand forms, and weapons forms for about 200 very impressed youth and adults. In addition, two adult students, H. Jenifer and S. McCutchen, assisted Dr. Thomas in a senior safety and self-defense demonstration. Both demonstrations were well received by the crowd and they clearly wanted more. Rambler youth and adults learned about health and environmental issues and the youth enjoyed the day running and playing in the lovely setting of Fletcher Field before and after the performances. Dr. Thomas thanks the parents and families who took the time and extra effort after a morning of tae kwon do classes to come out to support the Ramblers and their community. We look forward to participating in the second annual HEEA Day!
Excerpt from GHEP online news article [italics added]: "History was recently made in the Washington DC metropolitan area of the United States as nearly 200 people drawn from different walks of life voluntarily pledged to save the environment in a historic ceremony marking the first-ever Health, Environmental Education and Awareness (HEEA) Day and Community Picnic celebrated in Riverdale Park, Maryland on Saturday, June 13, 2015. HEEA Day 2015 and Community Picnic was aimed at educating and increasing citizen awareness on the individual and community health effects of intentional and unintentional environmental /waterways pollution, according to organizers, adding that it was also aimed at fostering the spirit of community and discussion of matters around the connection between our health and our environment. ... The event was attended by political leaders, faith-based leaders, community associations and other non-profit organization from different counties in Washington, DC metro area and Baltimore. Among the many special dignitaries at the event were Pastor Chidi Enwerem of This Generation Ministries, Lanham, MD; Dr. Clifford Thomas, a presidential award-winner and a long-time community leader from Bladensburg; Mr. Chris Osuji formerly of the PG County government; Mr. Jerry McLaurin and Ms. Sandy Pruitt both of Peoples for Change Coalition, a coalition of over 300 non-profit and citizen organizations based in PG County; Dr. Gopal Singh, and Dr. Magnus Azuine both of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services." Read the full article at this link.
Photos/Slideshow: Photos will be posted on our News Photos page.
At this year's Cinco de Mayo, an annual event at which the Ramblers are proud to perform, about 20 Ramblers of varying belt levels demonstrated basics and open-handed and weapons forms for the enjoyment of the large crowd. Bladensburg is a diverse and vibrant community and events like this serve to underscore that the residents who live here and in the Port Towns can come together to appreciate each other's cultures, different kinds of music, dancing, vendor offerings, and great food. We appreciate the Rambler students and their families who came out to support both the Rambler organization and the Town of Bladensburg. We look forward to being a part of this wonderful event next year!
One valiant Rambler student provided a spirited exhibition of his talents at the second annual Bladensburg Community Day on Saturday, October 18. A. Martinez performed basics and open-hand forms. He also demonstrated how to roll to escape and other self-defense moves to show how to get away when someone grabs your wrist, grabs you around the neck from the front or back, or pins your arms and grabs you around the waist from behind. He did an excellent job for the crowd, and proved once again that whether one, a few, or an army of Ramblers, Dr. Thomas' students come ready to do their best and impress the audience with their skills. Thank you, Mr. Martinez!
Photo Slideshow: Go to our News Photos page for a slideshow of pictures taken by Michael Hornberger.
The Ramblers once again joined the Port Towns Day at Bladensburg Waterfront Park to celebrate Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, and Edmonston. This year’s event focused on healthy eating and active living principles, and there was plenty of activity on this Saturday, September 27! M. Bellamy, D. Cabrera, A. Hernandez, E. Hernandez, A. Hornberger, the two D. Jenifers, E. Martinez, J. Smith, and M. Smith did a great job representing the Ramblers by giving a short demonstration of basics, empty-hand forms, and weapons forms. Mr. Hernandez performed the advanced forms, and wowed the crowd with jumps, kicks, and his mastery of the cane. A. Martinez and A. Mendez also came out to show their support. Dr. Thomas thanks all the students and their families who were able to attend, and particularly those who performed.
The children who participated in the eight-week Port Towns Power P.A.C. (Performing Arts Camp) were soggy but undaunted as they braved the uncooperative, rainy weather at Bladensburg Waterfront Park and gave a wonderful performance showcasing what they had learned at this innovative camp. This was the first year for the camp, which "toured" the Port Towns of Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, and Edmonston. Dr. Thomas worked with the campers twice a week and taught them about bullying prevention and safety. In Saturday's event, three of the skits addressed bullying behavior, bullying prevention, and safety through the use of a family "code word," as well as how to be an "escape artist" and get away from an attacker and seek help. They did a great job showing how to be leaders, not followers! Dr. Thomas is particularly proud of Ramblers Mandell Bellamy and Imani James, two of the campers, and of Adrian Seemangal and Daniel Spirtovic, volunteers who helped out at the camp. Special thanks go to Ms. Carlyncia Peck, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Artistic Empowerment Centers, who invited Dr. Thomas to again "lead by example" and be a part of the first year of this annual summer camp and to help launch such an important community effort on behalf of the children of the Port Towns and surrounding communities. Despite the rain, it was exciting (and scary) to hear cannons being fired, to see people in the costumes of the period, and to watch the American and the British soldiers, who drilled, marched, and reenacted the Battle of Bladensburg, in the uniforms of that period.
Significance of Event: 2014 was designated throughout Maryland to commemorate the War of 1812. The Battle of Bladensburg was significant in this conflict with the British. In this battle, which took place on August 24, 1814, "the inexperienced Americans were no match for the British Army and their terrorizing Congreve rockets and after initially pushing the British back, they scattered, all except Commodore Barney and his Marines and sailors. The Commodore and his seamen made a heroic stand against overwhelming odds. The hasty and disorganized retreat led to the battle becoming known as the Bladensburg races. The battle was termed 'the most humiliating episode in American history.' The American militia actually fled through the streets of Washington. President James Madison and others in the federal government were present at the battle and were nearly captured. They fled the capital and scattered through Maryland and Virginia." (Quotes are taken from the M-NCPPC's booklet, Your Passport to the War of 1812 in Prince George's County, Maryland). Despite this harrowing battle and humiliating defeat and the subsequent capturing and burning of public buildings of Washington, D.C., the lessons learned in retrospect had an important impact on the final outcome of the War of 1812 because they led to a realistic assessment of the American Army, its lack of organization, and effective military strategy in dealing with the British through the end of the war and the American military of the future. It also rallied Americans even more to do whatever needed to be done to defeat the British.
Check out Bladensburg's History: Historic buildings in Bladensburg are the Bostwick House (built in 1746; located at 3300 48th Street); the Market Master's House (built around 1765; located at 4006 48th Street); the George Washington House (built 1732; located at 4302 Baltimore Avenue); the Magruder House (built in 1732; located at 4703 Annapolis Road); Fort Lincoln Cemetery, where "during the Battle of Bladensburg ... American Commodore Joshua Barney, accompanied by his 500 flotilla men and Captain Samuel Miller and his 120 U.S. Marines, made a heroic defense of the national capital--fighting against the enemy hand-to-hand with cutlasses and pikes--near the entrance" (located at 3401 Bladensburg Road, Brentwood); and the Bladensburg Dueling Grounds, where "nearly 50 duels were fought ... between 1808 and 1871 ... located just beyond the District of Columbia line, it was a convenient place for the gentlemen of Washington to settle their quarrels, beyond the reach of federal law" (located at Bladensburg Road and 40th Avenue, Colmar Manor). (Quotes are taken from the M-NCPPC's booklet, Your Passport to the War of 1812 in Prince George's County, Maryland). To learn more about the War of 1812 sites and communities, call the M-NCPPC at 301-627-2270 FREE or visit www.pgparks.com.
On Saturday, June 28, Dr. Thomas was a guest at the 6th Annual Community Health Fair hosted by the Word For Life Health Ministries. The goal of these events is to increase public awareness of preventative health measures, to promote good health and wellness in general, and to demonstrate the link between a spirit-directed life and maintaining good physical and mental health. Free health screenings are provided. About 50 children and adults of all ages enjoyed his presentation about family safety. He emphasized the importance of children having a code word (a secret word) known only to the immediate family to help them distinguish whether someone attempting to pick them up, for example, outside of school, was authorized by their parents or caregivers. Dr. Thomas did skits about women's purses being stolen on the street and what to do to better safeguard their valuables, as well as common scams at gas stations, while driving a vehicle, and at the grocery store. He also showed seniors how to protect themselves using a cane and discussed how family dynamics may change as one grows older and is seen as more vulnerable and easy to steal from or even abuse.
Photo Slideshow: Go to our News Photos page for a slideshow of pictures taken by Denise Brown.
Rambler youth and their families represented in the community at Elizabeth Seton High School during Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown's visit to Bladensburg on Saturday morning, May 10. Dr. Thomas and his Ramblers were asked by the Town Council of Bladensburg to participate in the event to underscore the work being done in our community regarding safety for its citizens, including in the areas of bullying prevention, senior safety, and domestic violence prevention. Youth Ramblers and their families came out early to set up props (a bus, a school, houses, a car) and get ready to present a glimpse of the excellent Rambler program to the lieutenant governor. In the limited time, red belts E. Hernandez, E. Martinez, and B. Potts did an open-handed form that underscored the spirit of the day--God Bless America. Although the many other Rambler students of all ages were not able to do a demonstration as anticipated, they were quiet and respectful the entire time, showing the discipline they have learned. Two Rambler students--a three-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy-- presented a black Rambler tee shirt to both the lieutenant governor and Bladensburg Mayor Walter James. The Rambler adults were able to learn more about Mr. Brown's platform and ask questions of the candidate. It was a great day and everyone was able to benefit from the opportunity to be involved in significant communitywide events.
The Town of Bladensburg, sponsors, and many performers did it up right again this year for the town's Cinco de Mayo event. As always, Dr. Thomas thanks the organizers, particularly Councilmember Cris Mendoza, for their diligent efforts in making the event better each year and for inviting the Ramblers to perform each year. The students of varying belt levels demonstrated basics and open-handed and weapons forms for the enjoyment of the large crowd. Bladensburg is a diverse and vibrant community and events like this serve to underscore that the residents who live here and in the Port Towns can come together to appreciate each other's cultures, different kinds of music, dancing, vendor offerings, and great food. It was a beautiful day in many ways, and we look forward to participating again next year.
The commitment to and the participation of the Rambler organization in the community is strong, including in important events in Bladensburg. This was apparent in the Town of Bladensburg's 9th Annual Black History Month Celebration, held on March 2 at Publick Playhouse, that focused on the War of 1812 and particularly on African American contributions. A multicultural and multiracial group of young people and "seasoned" citizens read about African Americans who served during the war; recited poetry selections written by African American authors; sang, danced, and played instrumental selections; and read from scripture and offered prayers. The musical performances included the rousing West African Dance and Drum Ensemble, an entertaining harmonica selection from the piano instructor at Bladensburg Community Center, and songs sung by several students from our local middle and high schools. The musical performances culminated in two violin selections from the Ramblers' own Adrian Seemangal (Bladensburg Mayor Walter James referred to him fondly as "Dr. Adrian"). Mr. Seemangal is a talented young man who attends William Wirt Middle School and is very involved in the school's music and academic programs. The Ramblers in attendance gained a new appreciation of his abilities. It took a village of local people of all ages to organize and present this program. Dr. Thomas enjoyed the event and thanks Mr. Seemangal for his willingness to perform and bring his talent to the community. He also thanks the Ramblers who came out to support a Rambler student and to learn about the contributions of African Americans during and after the War of 1812.
Rambler students showed support for the Bladensburg community by demonstrating basics and empty-hand and weapons katas at the Town Hall on Bladensburg Community Day on Saturday, October 5. This event was the rain date for the town's cancelled August National Night Out. Safety was the message for the day, and the police and town officials and staff hosted an enjoyable event and provided important information about safety, including literature on how to prepare for emergencies and natural disasters. Food was free and there were fun games and a moon bounce. The Ramblers believe in giving back to the community and are happy to participate in Bladensburg events when asked. They also appreciate a good time, which, indeed, was had by all!
Twenty Ramblers came out to demonstrate their skills at Port Towns Day at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park on Saturday, September 21. Dr. Thomas and Mr. Hinton directed the group in basics and empty-hand and weapons katas. The Ramblers look forward to performing at Port Towns Day each year to entertain the crowd and to show their support for the thriving local communities represented at this exciting and well-attended event--Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, and Edmonston.
On Monday, September 9, Dr. Thomas was featured during the live telecast of the Bladensburg Town Council monthly meeting. Bladensburg supports We Lead By Example, Inc., through grants, and Dr. Thomas reported on the many activities of his nonprofit and the affiliated Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems organization. Mayor James and the council were delighted to receive a framed poster of the special 2012 photo collage of Rambler instructors and students that Dr. Thomas presented to the Town of Bladensburg at the conclusion of his remarks. Mayor James indicated that it will be accorded a special place on the wall of the main council room in town hall, where council and other community events are held. Dr. Thomas again thanks the council and the town for their support over the years and pledges to continue his work to improve quality of life not only for Bladensburgers, but also for residents who live in the surrounding metropolitan area.
Dr. Thomas thanks the Ramblers (E. Hernandez, D. Jenifer and D. Jenifer, E. Martinez, S. Romualdo, M. Sanders, and D. Thomas) who performed basics and open-hand and weapons katas for the appreciative audience at this year's Cinco de Mayo celebration in Bladensburg. It was an enjoyable afternoon for everyone, and the Ramblers are proud to be associated with this yearly event. As always, we thank the organizers, particularly Councilmember Cris Mendoza, for their diligent efforts in making the event better each year. We look forward to participating again next year.
The 16th Port Towns Day at Bladensburg Waterfront Park was a smashing success, with sunny, mild weather and large crowds. A combination of the celebrations of the Port Towns and of Mexican Independence and Central America Independence Day (in which the Ramblers have performed, as well as in Cinco de Mayo celebrations), the event underscored the diversity of the Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, and Edmonston communities. In addition to performances by a number of artists and groups, there were games, rides, boating, music, art vendors, wellness vendors, great food, and raffles. The Ramblers joined other groups in entertaining the audience and Dr. Thomas' students gave a demonstration of their talents that impressed the crowd. Our organization can always be counted on to support community events, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with other local organizations in the Port Towns in whatever capacity that will allow us to bring our unique programs to the table for the betterment of the community.
Dr. Thomas demonstrated the Ramblers' organizational alliance with the Seniors against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group by helping distribute free fresh food at the Bladensburg Community Center on Thursday, May 31. About 80 people came out to pick up the donated food from the Capital Area Food Bank, which included sweet potatoes, onions, cantaloupes, olive oil, and large containers of juices. This is the first such effort by the support group. Deacon Barbara Newby Givens, whose grandson is a Rambler student, is the founder and leader of the group, and she plans to expand its range of activities as this excellent organization continues to grow, flourish, and contribute to the community in a positive way.
The Ramblers were pleased to participate in this year's Bladensburg Cinco de Mayo celebration. It seems as though everyone in Bladensburg turned out to this wonderful event. The entertainment included a variety of music in Spanish and English performed by several talented artists, the excitement of several cartoon characters who posed for pictures with the children, clowns with their amusing routines, giveaways donated by local area businesses, and, as always, plenty of good food. The Ramblers impressed the crowd by showing their skills in basics and empty-hand and weapons forms. We thank the organizers, particularly Councilmember Cris Mendoza, for all their hard work. Check out the photos on the News photos page!
Dr. Thomas makes it a priority to work with organizations that are contributing in a positive way to the community. He also focuses on involving the Rambler organization in educational efforts that will benefit his students. With this in mind, he attended the Prince George's County NAACP and Men Aiming Higher Legislative Night in Annapolis on March 7, 2012, to find out more about the new leadership of the NAACP and the Men Aiming Higher organization that is partnering with it to define new approaches and to foster activities to encourage wider community participation in Prince George's County for the benefit of its citizens.
A group of about twenty Rambler students performed at the Town of Bladensburg's Black History Month Celebration held at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg. The event's focus was African-American Innovation, and it was hosted by Bladensburg Mayor Walter James. A large group of seniors from Emerson House and other members of the community of all ages attended this entertaining and informative event. Featured in addition to the Ramblers were powerful musical selections, including gospel and secular, as well as readings from several presenters about some of the many African-American innovators who have made significant contributions to society. Ms. Alma Smith, a Rambler adult student along with Mayor James, proudly presented her Bladensburg High School biomedical students, who described their educational work and spoke about a notable African-American inventor. A number of local, diverse organizations and businesses, including the Seton High School hosts, contributed food, decorations, and other support to this special event. The students of the Bladensburg Culinary Arts Program at Bladensburg High School organized the catered food service and served in the dining room with the help of volunteers, and they prepared and served the desserts--cookies and delicious crepes Suzette. Many individuals, including staff from the Town of Bladensburg offices, worked to support this program and contributed to making it a real success. The Ramblers enjoyed participating in this celebration and would be pleased to return next year if invited.
On Friday, December 23, Dr. Thomas presented a local Bladensburg family with a honey-baked ham and bags of groceries to help them celebrate Christmas. Once again, he is grateful for the generosity of the Rambler families who donated to this "adopt-a-family" fund and who extended a much appreciated helping hand to people in the community. The Ramblers thank him for purchasing and delivering the groceries on behalf of the organization. Dr. Thomas acknowledges Ms. McCutchen for collecting the contributions and Bladensburg Council Member Trina Brown for assisting him in locating the local family in need of assistance.
On Wednesday, December 21, Dr. Thomas and Ms. McCutchen sorted and distributed clothing to families of children who attend Rogers Heights Elementary School in Bladensburg, Maryland. Dr. Thomas thanks those who donated the impressive variety of children's, women's, and men's clothing. He also thanks Rambler Mayor Walter James for making arrangements with Ms. Bottoms, the school's principal, for the distribution opportunity. The families were appreciative of this gesture from our organization and were pleased to find items they could use, particularly children's clothes.
On Wednesday, November 23, Dr. Thomas, Ms. Waters and her two children (Rambler students A. Eason and A. Waters), and Bladensburg Mayor Walter James (a Rambler adult student) presented a local Bladensburg family with a turkey and bags of groceries to help them celebrate Thanksgiving. Dr. Thomas appreciates the generosity of the Rambler families who shared their hard-earned money with a family going through difficult times to help make this holiday special for them. Dr. Thomas thanks both Ms. McCutchen and Ms. Waters for collecting the contributions, and Ms. Waters for working with him to purchase and deliver the groceries for the family's feast. He would also like to acknowledge Mayor James for his continued support of the Rambler organization and his assistance in this Rambler activity.
Mayor Robert Kerns of Edmonston invited the Ramblers back to give a demonstration at Edmonston Day. After their action-filled performance, Dr. Thomas and his students thoroughly enjoyed themselves at this event replete with fun for everyone, good food, great music, excellent dance performances, and even the chance to get personal with reptiles (including an opportunity to hold snakes!). But what about the Classic Car and Truck Show with awards and a trophy for the "Best Ride," a chance to see police helicopters land in the field and look at them up close, and the opportunity to meet the Edmonston Town Council and police department? Had that, too! Dr. Thomas encouraged children, their parents, and other adults to join the Ramblers at Bladensburg Community Center when the next session begins--and it looked as though more than a few were ready to sign up!
The Ramblers were pleased to celebrate Mexican Independence and Central America Independence Day, sponsored by the Bladensburg Day Committee, by showcasing their martial arts skills in the basics, open-hand forms, and weapons forms, including the bo and the cane. This important event marks the independence of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica. It was a wonderful day with something for everyone, especially the children, including good music, good food, and much more for a fine day of entertainment and community fun. Dr. Thomas looks forward to being invited again next year.
Dr. Thomas and his Rambler students were pleased to be invited to give a demonstration at the Back to School Fair as part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning series of presentations. Park and Planning advertised their after-school resources at their booth, and, in addition to the Ramblers, highlighted fitness, Zumba, kickboxing, and line dancing activities offered to the community. Eleanor Roosevelt High School's media center, football field, auditorium, cafeteria, foyer, and gymnasium were full of activities and the event was filled to the brim with interested parents and children. There were workshops on truancy/bullying, steps to financial success, the SchoolMAX Family Portal, going to and funding for college, graduation requirements, how to be a successful student, communications, and Prince George's County government services. Booths representing the Prince George's County schools lined the hallways and brought the schools to the people of the county. In his classes, Dr. Thomas teaches students to be aware of their surroundings and to be street smart. One of his concerns is how to effectively combat bullying, whether encountered face-to-face or through social media on the Internet, and this is part of the training he provides in his classes. He emphasizes that children need to be leaders, not followers. He welcomes the opportunity to bring his program to the schools and do what he can to make the lives of everyone in the community safer.
The intense heat let up somewhat just in time for the August 2 National Night Out event in Bladensburg that spotlighted public safety. Dr. Thomas and several of his Rambler new and seasoned students showed their skills in a safety demonstration geared toward both children and adults. They demonstrated a few martial arts basics and forms; showed the importance of "street smarts," particularly how to escape from an attacker who might grab you or throw you down by rolling and getting away and by fighting from the ground; and how to ward off an attacker with a cane and attract attention to get assistance. The Bladensburg Night Out was part of the yearly nationwide effort to bring together communities and spotlight citizen involement in crime prevention in their own backyards. The event was sponsored by the Bladensburg police department and the Town Council, and they hosted (and worked hard during, including sweating at the barbecue stations) a terrific event that featured free food (hot dogs, chicken, ribs, and more), music by a deejay, dancing, a moon bounce, a water slide, and a water balloon toss enjoyed by both children and adults. Dr. Thomas appreciates being invited to these events to showcase simple self-defense methods that individuals can use. He is also a proponent of neighborhood watches, which play an important role in making communities safer, and will train individuals in communities who have or are planning to establish a neighborhood watch.
June 25 was a beautiful and breezy day at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park where Prince George's Community Advocates for Family & Youth (CAFY) held a community day. The Ramblers, youth and adults, performed open-hand and weapons forms, as well as other martial arts techniques, for families who had come to the waterfront park to enjoy the weather, family activities, and good food. More importantly, they learned about CAFY's activities to promote healing in the community through offering useful information to individuals and families about health, safety, and financial concerns. Dr. Thomas, his Rambers students, and their families wholeheartedly support efforts by organizations such as CAFY to better the lives of people and their communities, and appreciate being invited to contribute by performing at this event.
Twenty Rambler students, including four adults, brought excitement to the main stage of the Prince George's Child Resource Center's 1st Annual Family Festival at FedEx Field on Saturday, June 11. They demonstrated open-hand and weapons forms, as well as other martial arts techniques, and wowed the audience. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the resource center, this family festival was planned to bring "children, families and the greater community together for a fun-filled day of education and activities promoting health, happiness, and well-being." Our Rambler families enjoyed being part of this inaugural family festival. Dr. Thomas looks forward to the Ramblers being invited again next year to help support the important community activities of the resource center as it moves forward into its third decade.
Saturday, April 30, was a beautiful day for the annual Cinco de Mayo event in Bladensburg. From musical entertainment from a variety of groups to colorful costumes to delicious food of many kinds to performing clowns and Disney characters to raffle items that included bicycles that had been donated by local businesses, the celebrants had many treats at their fingertips. Dr. Thomas and a group of Rambler students put on a rousing demonstration of their skills, including forms and weapons, for the throng of spectators that encircled them on the lawn of Bladensburg Town Hall. This event is always successful and a testament to the diversity and spirit of Bladensburg. The Ramblers are proud to be asked to participate each year.
Dr. Thomas and several of his students were one of the highlights of Bladensburg Community Center's Black History Month program on Saturday, February 26. Preceded by members of the Bladensburg Elementary School band and the Bladensburg ROTC Team and Flag Team, the Ramblers displayed a veritable showcase of talent. Dr. Thomas also demonstrated simple self-defense methods using a cane ("cane do"), which particularly pleased the large number of senior citizens from Bladensburg's Emerson House who came out for the event. A talented group of energetic Emerson House residents sang spirituals, two young ladies sang dynamic songs to display their talent, and the evening culminated with Ramblers E. Martinez singing and E. Hernandez dancing to a selection by Michael Jackson, joined by several other young members of the audience who also showed their skills. Always effervescent host Mayor Walter James joined in and showed the delighted audience a few of his line dancing and Michael Jackson moves! Bladensburg council members Walter Ficklin, Walter George, Cris Mendoza, and Charlina Watson, and the Bladensburg police were out in full force. As always, Officer Allison Dugas could be found everywhere, effectively multitasking. The hard work of the organizers, including Bladensburg Community Center's Jeremy Weiss, who sported a sharp suit and skypiece, was apparent. Unsung organizer Sharon Westman and her efficient crew of youthful volunteers managed to serve delicious food from Three Brothers along with many a cup of lemonade to a large number of people in a short time period, and to clean up expeditiously so that everyone could enjoy the talent show. This event was well organized and planned, and the audience turnout showed the strength and diversity of Bladensburg. The Ramblers were proud to participate and can always be called on to support Bladensburg and other Port Towns events.
The Ramblers performed at the 200th anniversary celebration of Mexican and Central America independence held in Bladensburg. While the event celebrated the independence of many countries, those still struggling to gain independence were remembered and speakers encouraged support for human rights on many fronts. The organizers were mindful that this day is of importance to all Americans as they remember the many innocent people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, and honored them. Dr. Thomas' students dedicated a special martial arts form called "God Bless America" to their memory and American resilience. Announcements in both Spanish and English, a variety of styles of music in both Spanish and English, family-oriented activities with excellent prizes for winning competitors, vendor tables with memorabilia, and delicious food brought together the many residents of Bladensburg who attended this lively gathering, and led to an enjoyable day. Dr. Thomas was pleased to have been invited to bring his students to do a demonstration at this community event. Once again, his leadership encourages them to lead by their positive examples.
Another hot day with an exciting demonstration by the Ramblers! They performed at the Columbia Park/Kentland Community Center Health Fair, which is held every year. Several free health screenings were available and free goodie bags and brochures with important health-related information were distributed. What about encouraging exercise and active living? In addition to the Ramblers, another attraction was line dancing instruction that kept the place jumping with good music and lots of fun (and healthy) movement. Dr. Thomas is always pleased to bring his students to events such as these because of his own concern about and commitment to contributing to the community in a positive way. What could be better than trying to keep people healthy and active?
It was a hot, hot, hot, and humid day in the Port Towns, but the Ramblers braved the heat to give an energetic performance for the crowd on the occasion of the annual Edmonston Day event. Dr. Thomas was honored to be invited by Edmonston Council Member Robert Kerns on behalf of the town's Recreation Council. He appreciated being warmly welcomed by Mayor Adam Ortiz and Council Member Tracy Farrish. Rambler students demonstrated their skills in open-hand and weapons forms and participated in a demonstration by Dr. Thomas of simple self-defense techniques using a cane. After the performance, Dr. Thomas, who heads the Safety Action Team of the Port Towns Community Health Partnership, invited the audience to attend a forum in the Edmonston Recreation Hall to discuss views and concerns about safety in the Port Towns of Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, and Edmonston. Safety is an important aspect of healthy eating and active living, which are the goals the partnership is striving to achieve through its work. Also featured at Edmonston Day were a parachute adventure, a moon bounce obstacle course, lasertag, a 45-foot high titanic slide, pony and firetruck rides, and a trackless train. There was also a car, truck, and motorcyle show; a Prince George's County helicopter and a U.S. Capitol police Medivac helicopter flew in for people to look at and learn about; and a Lion's Club command bus provided free hearing and vision exams. To top it off, there were funnel cakes and the very popular Smokey the locomotive train barbecue often featured at events held in Washington, D.C.
The Ramblers are a highly-anticipated attraction at Bladensburg's Cinco de Mayo Celebration, and once again did not disappoint. The temperature was soaring and it was a very hot and sunny day. With the assistance of a wonderful bilingual host at the mic, Dr. Thomas was able to explain the meaning of the demonstrations of forms and weapons to the many Spanish speakers in the audience. No one, however, could miss the excitement of the action that needed no translation. Dr. Thomas also showed simple self-defense methods using a cane ("cane do"). Among other featured entertainers were music and dance groups Aztlan, Grupo Escalante, Kilatez Musical, Larry L., De Colores, Katadore Musical, Kare Mi Pueblo, and a talented belly dancer. The good food topped off the event, which was by all accounts another great success with its cultural and language mix that reflects the wonderful diversity of Bladensburg and the Port Towns.
Dr. Thomas and a stalwart group of his Rambler students and their families braved the chilly, rainy weather to come out to this Port Towns expo at Bladensburg Waterfront Park that focused on healthy living. Although the crowd was smaller than anticipated because of the unexpected downturn in the weather, the audience appreciated seeing the Ramblers of different belt levels in action, doing basic martial arts training exercises, handily executing open-hand forms, and showcasing their skills with weapons. Dr. Thomas also demonstrated simple self-defense methods using a cane ("cane do").
Port Towns Day 2009 was a well-organized, variety-filled event brought to the community by the Towns of Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, and Edmonston and the Port Towns Community Development Corporation. This year's theme encouraged "Port Towns' residents to resist conformity, processed goods and services, and instant gratification; but instead to act natural in mind, body, and soul-fostering originality." Kaiser Permanente is a major sponsor of Port Towns Day and supports the Port Towns Community Health Partnership, a collaboration among Kaiser, the Port Towns Community, and the Consumer Health Foundation. Dr. Thomas and his Ramblers also support the event each year by demonstrating the importance of physical activity and mental strength. This year he and his talented youth demonstration team from ages four through teenagers showed well-executed tae kwon do empty-hand and weapons forms. The highlight of the performance was board breaking executed by a four-year-old student who wowed the crowd with his skill. After their demonstration, Rambler students fanned out to participate in the many activities and watch other performances, and they thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the day. One young Rambler student in particular brought the crowd to its feet with his remarkable dance routine to Michael Jackson music. DJ Frank Evans and DJ A1 Mix provided an entertaining mix of music, which enhanced the scheduled musical performances by the Proverbs (Caribbean and reggae music), Hall Brothers (country/rock music), Inpkble Band (Latino music), Part Harmony A Capella (smooth soul/Motown music), Fauz Paz and (a capella), and Kool K (jazz). Dance groups included the Colours, DC Show Biz, and Zumba Dance. Evolution of Children and Ambition and Big Zues rapped. Watkins Nature Center staff brought amazing and beautiful rescued birds of prey (hawk, owls) for the audience to see and learn about. Children and adults hoola-hooped in a remarkable endurance contest hosted by Bladensburg Community Center's own Steve Ellis and Shawn Cosby from Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning. The many vendors provided good food, other goods, and useful information about healthy lifestyles. Dr. Thomas and the Ramblers were pleased to be invited to add another exciting element to this yearly event that brings together the Port Towns community and has as its goal bettering the lives of its citizens.
The Latino community and fellow Bladensburgers partied hearty during the daylong Mexican Independence and Central America Independence celebration on Bladensburg Day 2009. Dr. Thomas and his skillful Ramblers' student demonstration team were warmly welcomed and enthusiastically applauded when they took the stage and were spotlighted during the entertainment extravaganza accentuated by a series of lively and crowd-pleasing bands. Dr. Thomas appreciated the emcee translating his presentation into Spanish and taking the time to introduce each Rambler student to make the event special for them. A few of the dignitaries in attendance were Bladensburg Mayor Walter James and Town Council members, including Cris Mendoza, who spearheaded the planning committee that organized this outstanding event, and Maryland Senator David Harrington (47th District), who comes out at every opportunity to show his support for the communities in his district. Dr. Thomas and his students were proud to perform and participate in this celebration of Bladensburg and look forward to returning next year to support the town's diverse and vibrant community.
Dr. Thomas and several Rambler students and their families came out for the "Community First" free family fun day hosted by Maryland State Senator David C. Harrington of the 47th Legislative District, which includes Bladensburg. The event was held at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park. The goals of Community First are to (1) educate the community on the process of state government; (2) motivate the community to design policy and laws which can positively affect neighborhoods in the 47th District; and (3) liberate the community from the structures of government, so that citizens can take on higher levels of leadership in addressing their own concerns in state government (see website http://www.davidharrington.org/ for more details). Dr. Thomas has led by example for many years as a community activist and supports the Community First efforts. He involves the Ramblers in as many local events as possible to involve his students more fully in the broader community of which we are all citizens.
On Saturday, August 1, the Ramblers were invited to give a demonstration at the NUBC Health Fair. It was a hot day, but the community came out in force to the fair at which helpful information and good food and music were offered to the neighborhood residents. They were impressed by the skills demonstrated by students A. Clement, W. Brogsdale, and K. Hinton, as well as by the presentation of simple self-defense methods dramatized by Dr. Thomas and adult student "stuntman" G. Clement that also engaged volunteers from the audience. The spectators were enthusiastic in their reception, and NUBC pastor Rev. Arthur J. Patterson and his congregation appreciated that Dr. Thomas and his students are supportive of the community and take the time to participate in local events. For their part, the Ramblers are anxious to make a positive contribution by sharing their knowledge and encouraging others to become part of an organization that makes a difference.
On Saturday, July 18, Dr. Thomas and several Rambler students provided an exciting demonstration at the Bladensburg Community Center youth health fair. In addition to the Ramblers demonstration, the fair boasted many other activities for youth ages 6 to 17, including a performance by a local step team, free healthy alternative foods, Wii and active video games, a moon bounce, roller skating, and good music. Maryland State Senator David Harrington (District 42) and Bladensburg Mayor Walter James dropped by to lend their support to this positive community event. After watching a short series of simple self-defense moves entertainingly demonstrated by Dr. Thomas, Senator Harrington surprised both Dr. Thomas and the audience by volunteering to test out some of them for himself. To the delight of the audience, he learned firsthand that the methods taught by Dr. Thomas can be very effective. Everyone had a great time at this well-organized and well-attended event, which demonstrated the importance of eating healthy foods and becoming involved in physical activities both to stay fit and to have fun.
On Saturday, September 20, the Ramblers brought excitement to the annual Port Towns Day, which was held at Bladensburg Waterfront Park. Dr. Thomas once again displayed his crowd-pleasing emcee talents as he highlighted the abilities of his students during their demonstration of forms and weapons skills for the large crowd. Several students of different belt levels, from white to brown, showed that the Ramblers are indeed the best around! Later in the day, Dr. Thomas not only entertained a group of seniors, but also demonstrated for them practical self-defense methods and provided a few basic safety tips that could save their lives.
On Saturday, June 28, Dr. Thomas brought several of his students of different ages and belt levels to the sorority's health fair for a demonstration of martial arts skills, forms, and self-defense methods for people of all ages, including seniors. He indicated he will continue to work with the sorority and develop seminars for more in-depth training.
On Sunday, May 4, a team of Tae Kwon Do Ramblers' students gave a demonstration for the revelers at the Bladensburg Cinco de Mayo Celebration held at Bladensburg Town Hall. It was a beautiful day and a joyful celebration with great music from a talented deejay and guest bands, dancing, and good food. Bladensburg Council member Cris Mendoza hosted this successful community event, with the support of Bladensburg Council officials, including Mayor Walter James and Council members Walter Ficklin and Charlina Watson (who all stepped out in style for this special event), police officials, and hardworking event staff. The Clement family--T. Simpson-Clement (Rambler student), C. Simpson (former Rambler student), and A. Clement (Rambler student), are shown below at the event.
On Saturday, April 19, the Tae Kwon Do Ramblers helped kick off the regional Diabetes & Obesity Awareness and Prevention Campaign at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park. Dr. Thomas and a large group of his students of all ages demonstrated their skills in the basics, forms, and board breaking. They also supported their kick off event partners by taking part in the various fitness activities throughout the park, such as Crossfit's obstacle course rowing machines and other basic and challenging physical fitness equipment and exercises. On hand to enjoy the impressive Ramblers in action were Maryland State Senator David Harrington, Andrea Harrison (candidate running for the seat of former Prince George's County Council member Harrington), and Bladensburg Mayor Walter James and Council member Cris Mendoza. The Community Health Iniative, the host of this event, is a partnership among Kaiser Permanente, the Anacostia Watershed Society, the Port Towns Community Development Corporation, End Time Harvest Ministries, and the towns of Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, and Edmonston. The first photo above shows Dr. Thomas (on the right) with Bladensburg Mayor Walter James. In the second photo, Dr. Thomas and his advanced belt students observe a group open-hand form. Also shown is a group bow form.
A group of Dr. Thomas' students gave excited revelers a peek at their talents in a demonstration at Bladensburg Community Center's annual Mardi Gras Celebration on February 23. The audience applauded the rolling, forms, and board-breaking skills of W. Brogsdale, K. Erazo, A. Graham, A. Hornberger, A. Seemangal, and R. Smith, along with the various talents of the many other groups who had been invited to perform at this year's event.
Dr. Clifford Thomas was invited to appear as a special guest at two National Night Out events in two Maryland counties--Bladensburg (Prince George's) and Silver Spring (Montgomery). He underscored his commitment to the betterment of our local communities by demonstrating simple self-defense techniques and offering potentially life-saving tips to encourage citizens to be proactive should they be attacked by those intending to harm them. His first demonstration, at Bladensburg's Town Hall's outside event, was well attended despite the heat. His second, for a large, enthusiastic crowd reluctant to let him leave the stage, was in the main activity room of the Coffield Community Center in Silver Spring. After the second demonstration, Dr. Thomas was surprised and honored by Ms. Patricia Tyson, the program coordinator, who presented him with a special acknowledgment to mark the importance of his tireless community work. He was thanked for making "this an enjoyable evening to celebrate the absence of crime and the simple rules of safety for our protection and well being." His tribute of appreciation further read: "Your contribution to this program is a visible sign to us of your interest and concern in helping our communities, our law enforcement agencies, and county government agencies accent the importance of crime-free neighborhoods that build strong healthy families and thereby help produce good neighborhoods and quality leaders for the future."
Above is a montage of photos from Bladensburg's National Night Out. Dr. Thomas, in uniform, is shown in the center photo of the bottom row. (Section of photos from Bladensburg National Night Out 2007_NNO_Report_and_Review.pdf.)
Dr. Thomas showcased the skills of several of his students in an impressive demonstration at Bladensburg Community Center's exciting annual Mardi Gras Celebration on February 24. teens and other volunteers, working with center staff, created a festive atmosphere by decorating the center and, of course, providing revelers lots and lots of beads and crowns of various kinds.
The teeming crowd of spectators was thrilled with the performances of W. Brogsdale, V. Cantorna, D. Gray, T. Gray, K. Hinton, A. Hornberger, I. Martinez, and N. Potts, and were treated to a brief but memorable glimpse of what Dr. Thomas has to offer.
Dignitaries on hand for the festivities included United States Congressman Albert R. Wynn, representing Maryland's 4th Congressional District; Prince George's County Councilman David C. Harrington, representing District 5; Bladensburg Mayor Walter Lee James, Jr.; and Bladensburg Town Councilman Cris Mendoza, representing Ward I
Dr. Clifford Thomas was invited to give a demonstration at the Jamaica Nationals Association family picnic on Sunday, July 16, in Montgomery County, Maryland. His demonstration of several practical self-defense methods in his vast repertoire was appreciated by the audience, whose members of all ages readily volunteered to assist by becoming part of the demonstration. Dr. Thomas stressed that, with the proper instruction and practice, an average person can learn effective self-protection.
On Saturday, April 22, a contingent of youth and adult Ramblers participated in the Bladensburg Waterfront Park Earth Day Clean Up and Celebration 2006. It was a rainy day, but the wet and muddy conditions did not deter our hearty group. Eligible middle and high school students received service hours for their civic involvement. Everyone in the group received special individual certificates of appreciation from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Thanks again and congratulations to the following Ramblers!
CHILDREN: D. Brogsdale, W. Brogsdale, R. Cabrera, M. Davis, A. Fleming, E. Kissomahop, A. Martinez, I. Martinez, J. Sanders, M. Sanders, E. Thompson, and F. Walton
ADULTS: A. Angeline, B. Brogsdale, C. Davis, S. McCutchen, C. Thomas, S. Thompson, E. Sanders, L. Sanders, F. Walton, and P. Wilson