Saturday, November 10, featured cold temperatures and a brisk wind. Nonetheless, our many participants were undaunted as they followed the lead of stalwart and dedicated Walter James, former mayor and current First Gentleman of Bladensburg. We appreciate that he led the walk again this year! Those who participated in the walk were treated to hot drinks and doughnuts by the parishoners of a local church as they returned to Bladensburg Community Center, from where they had started.
When the shivering walkers returned to the center, they enjoyed more refreshments, followed by skits on bullying prevention and child sexual abuse performed by several students of Grandmaster Dr. Clifford Thomas, President and CEO of We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems. Newly-elected Maryland senator Malcolm Augustine, a staunch supporter of our organization, dropped by to say a few words. Antoine Lunsford, teacher and author, brought copies of his Little Andy book series, Oh No! There's a Bully in Our School!!! and The Greatest Recess Monitor Ever!!!!.
Reporters from the Andrews Gazette (Bobby Jones, photojournalist) and the Washington Informer (Michael McCoy, freelance photographer) joined the more-than-a-mile walk on Annapolis Road and through neighborhoods in Bladensburg and covered the rally.
The event was reported by award-winning journalist 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).
See the Capture the Moment photo by Michael A. McCoy on page 10 of the November 15 Washington Informer.
Share this exciting information with your friends, relatives, and social media! Dr. Thomas and youth students E. Hernandez, D. Jenifer, E. Martinez, and A. Seemangal taped a program about bullying prevention and basic self-defense for DCTV's "The Veronica Harris Show," based in Washington, DC. Go to this YouTube link and see them in this interesting and informative program. Regarding this program, the producer wrote to Dr. Thomas: "We were delighted in having your participation on the show and the crew you brought with you put the icing on the cake."
On Saturday, October 21, Dr. Thomas and youth students E. Hernandez, D. Jenifer, E. Martinez, and A. Seemangal taped a program about bullying prevention and basic self-defense for DCTV's "The Veronica Harris Show," based in Washington, DC. Dr. Thomas was interviewed at length and his students provided demonstrations and also provided comments about their experiences with We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems. Dr. Thomas very much appreciates this opportunity to speak about his program and to highlight his students. He is proud of their maturity and poise as they lead by example and positively reflect the tenets of his program and what he has taught over the years they have been martial arts students.
It didn't rain this year! Our many participants enjoyed a pleasant walk led by newly-elected Bladensburg Mayor Takisha James and her husband, former mayor Walter James, as well as First Daughter, Imani James. Everyone enjoyed the walk and reportedly got a lot of exercise because of the brisk pace of the leaders of the pack!
Go to this link for a video of the James family leading the Tae Kwon Do Ramblers, their families, and the community in the walk, and for interviews with Dr. Thomas, Walter James, and Takisha James.
Soggy was the word for the day, but we valiantly weathered the storm and had a great day at our second annual Walk and Rally for National Bullying Prevention Month on Saturday, October 1. The walkers were led by the Town of Bladensburg Mayor Walter James, his wife Kisha, and their daughter Imani. They were accompanied through Bladensburg by Officer Audrey Hedgepesth-Calloway of the Bladensburg Police Department. Back at the Bladensburg Community Center gym, the weary walkers ate some sorely-needed snacks, provided by our community-supportive Wegmans store at Woodmore Town Centre, and we finished the event with a rally.
Go to this link to see a video of Mayor Walter James leading the Tae Kwon Do Ramblers, their families, and the community in the walk.
Special guests included several individuals presented with our Leading By Example Awards because their outstanding dedication and leadership provide a positive role model for our country and for today's youth.
--State's Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks (accepted on her behalf by Terry Bell)
--Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (accepted on her behalf by Ryan Middleton, Esq.)
--Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell, CEO, Prince George's County School System (acccepted on his behalf by Dr. Leon Washington)
--Senator Barbara Mikulski (accepted on her behalf by Isiah Horton)
--Purnell Hall and Eric Watson, Department of Public Works, Town of Bladensburg. They accepted awards on behalf of their colleagues, Ronald Alston Jr., Gary Turner, Awner Fuentes, and Gabino Cardozo)
Other attendees included Malcolm Augustine (WMATA Board), Delegate Diana Fennell (with staff Rick Bailey and Maliek Harding), Delegate Jimmy Tarlau, and Kendall Wade (Young Democrats of Maryland Public Safety Caucus). Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford sent "his best wishes for all and thanks everyone for their concerns and efforts in 'busting bullying'." Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker III sent his regards and wished us "an enjoyable event and continued success."
Delegates Fennell and Tarlau surprised We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems with a Maryland General Assembly Official Citation "in recognition of their 2nd Annual Walk and Rally for National Bullying Prevention Month," signed by Senator Victor Ramirez and Delegates Fennell and Tarlau. Dr. Clifford Thomas received their Official Citation "in recognition of his outstanding work and dedication in the community against bullying." Ms. Susan McCutchen received an Official Citation "in recognition of her outstanding and distinguished service with the Tae Kwon Do Ramblers." The Ramblers, Dr. Thomas, and Ms. McCutchen were overwhelmed with these honors and truly appreciate being recognized by Senator Ramirez and Delegates Fennell and Tarlau, past recipients of our Leading By Example Award. They have supported the community work of our organization for many years and can always be counted on when we need them.
Other awardees who could not attend were President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe and Second Lady Jill Biden, Delegate Darryl Barnes, Anthony Brown, Robert Burton (ABC-7 News Anchor), Curtis Crutchfield (Prince George's Community Television), Leon Harris (ABC-7 News Anchor), Congressman Steny Hoyer, Bobby Jones (Andrews Gazette), Glenn Ivey, Jimm Rhee, and Delegate Carlo Sanchez.
First Lady Michelle Obama sent her regards and said she would "keep your [our] invitation should we be able to schedule a visit in the future."
Congressman Steny Hoyer sent a video marking the Ramblers' second annual Walk and Rally for National Bullying Prevention Month on October 1, 2016. He thanked Dr. Thomas and We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems for giving him the Leading By Example Award for his outstanding dedication and leadership and for being a role model for the country and for today's youth.
Dr. Thomas participated in Lewisdale Elementary School's 2016 Career Day on May 27. He very much enjoyed working with kindergarten, first grade, and third grade students who came to see him. They enjoyed his bullying prevention presentation and the opportunity to interact with him in the learning experience. There just wasn't enough time! He looks forward to returning to the school to do an in-depth seminar for more students at all grade levels at the school.
Young ghosts, goblins, ghouls, ballerinas, and superheroes gathered at Hunter Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church on Friday, October 31, to enjoy games, crafts, face painting, music, dancing, and CANDY! But they did a good time even better because children ages 3-7 also had a session about "Fun with Reading and Learning," while those ages 13-18 had a "Trick or Treat? Play and Domestic Violence Discussion." Dr. Thomas and the revelers ages 8-12 had perhaps one of the best times, though, as they learned a few simple self-defense methods to use should someone grab their wrists, try to choke them, or come behind them and pin their arms. They related their stories about bullying, particularly on the bus, and then acted out a skit that showed the consequences of being a follower, not a leader, when a person succumbs to peer pressure and gets in trouble. Dr. Thomas thanks Rev. Tikeisha Harris, the director of IMPACT Youth Ministry, for inviting him and looks forward to partnering with the organization and returning to Hunter Memorial for more in-depth workshops in bullying prevention and other programs.
Dr. Thomas participated for a second year in Career Day at Judge Sylvania W. Woods Sr. Elementary School on Friday, April 17. He was pleased to talk with about 300 students (children from kindergarten through fifth grade) and to engage them interactively in skits related to safety and bullying prevention (including cyberbullying). During the 12 20-minute sessions, geared to each grade level, the children learned nonviolent ways to avert bullying behavior and some simple self-defense methods they can use to escape from child snatchers, whether known to them or strangers. They participated in entertaining skits that underscored the need for families to have a secret code word that members can use to confirm who has been authorized to pick them up outside of the school building or in other locations. The students were shown the value of working as a team and supporting one another, celebrating their differences instead of allowing them to cause division among themselves. April marks Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Accordingly, Dr. Thomas also addressed behaviors about which children should be aware to not allow themselves to be preyed on by child molesters. These children will be leaders and not followers!
On Saturday, May 23, Dr. Thomas worked with 10 teen girls ages 12 -17 at My Girlfriend's House, Inc. (MGH). This program mentors at-risk girls and this workshop was convened for them to learn not only about bullying and how to prevent it, but focused on the bully within. The teen participants had an open dialogue with Dr. Thomas and MGH's dedicated staff about their experiences being bullied and their own approaches to relationships with others in which they are aggressive or quick to respond without thinking. Cyberbullying was also discussed and the teens shared their experiences in that area. Dr. Thomas demonstrated several simple self-defense methods the teens can use to defend themselves should they be grabbed or attacked, whether by a bully or in other situations, and they broke into pairs to practice these moves. Bullying is a real problem in today's world and it can escalate into violence, including sexual, and it can lead to severe problems, even suicide, for the victims and the perpetrators. The MGH staff showed foresight in trying to tackle the issue of targeting the bully within. The teens indicated at the end of the workshop that they had a variety of takeaway messages and it was clear that they left with a food for thought about themselves and their actions related to the complex issue of bullying. In addition, they learned some potentially life-saving self-defense methods should an adverse situation arise. Dr. Thomas urged the teens to think before they act, to try to act in ways that have good effects on their lives, to create goals for themselves to stay on a positive path, and to seek help and advice from trusted/qualified adults if they find they are troubled or they are encountering situations in which they feel powerless, threatened, or angry.
Rain didn't bother us! The Ramblers Bullying Busters, a group of Rambler students and their parents and several local area participants, led down the sidewalks by our highly motivated and stalwart Bladensburg Mayor Walter James and accompanied by Bladensburg police, braved the fine, cold mist that gave us a short break from a few days of constant downpours and marched down 57th Street to Annapolis Road, down several long blocks of Annapolis Road toward Bladensburg's Peace Cross, turned back toward the Bladensburg Community Center (57th Avenue) at Bladensburg Elementary School to go back down Annapolis Road, and then returned to their starting point at the center. They carried a number of signs--"Honk against Bullying," Let's Stop Bullying," "Be a Leader, Not a Follower," "We Lead by Example," "Don't Be a Bully," among others--and chanted, and they were greeted by honking shows of support from passing motorists.
Media Coverage: The September 25 Andrews Gazette online article is at this link and on the front page of the print edition at this link. The first video below was shot by Kabeer Burns, father of a Rambler student, and the second video was shot by Walter James, Mayor of Bladensburg and an adult Rambler student. Go to the News Photos page for more pictorial coverage.
This fine start for the day on Saturday, October 3, which culminated in a stirring rally at the center's gym, where refreshments awaited the hearty crew, made for a very successful first annual Walk and Rally for National Bullying Prevention Month. Dr. Thomas and a few of his students showed three skits to demonstrate suggested ways to address bullying encounters to start off the rally. The messages delivered by our guest speakers--Maryland Senators Joanne C. Benson (Prince George's County Education Coalition) and Victor Ramirez; Prince George's County Delegate Jimmy Tarlau; Bladensburg Council Members Trina Brown, Walter Ficklin, and Beverly Hall; local and regional activist Malcolm Augustine (who currently serves on the Metro Board); Novella Matthews (who has an adult bullying nonprofit); and Frederick Walton (a returning adult student who recently graduated from Morehouse College and is returning to earn his black belt)--made it clear that this community actively cares and acknowledges the work that needs to be done to mitigate bullying behavior. Bladensburg COPS officers David Calloway and Maria Ramirez were in the house and distributed information. Let's stop the bullying! Bullying is a behavior that affects people of all ages and is painful for everyone concerned. This event was endorsed by the Prince George's County Education Coalition and was held in conjunction with events across the country promoted by the PACER National Bullying Prevention Center. We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems is a leader in bullying prevention and supports efforts against bullying throughout the year.
On Thursday morning, October 1, Dr. Thomas was interviewed for a segment on that evening's Prince George's County Television (PGCTV) news. He spoke about We Lead By Example, Inc.'s October 3 Walk and Rally for National Bullying Prevention Month. See the September 25 news article below for more information about the pre-event coverage of this walk and rally event.
On Friday morning, September 25, Dr. Thomas was interviewed by Robert Gatewood on Radio One's Marketing Pulpit. He spoke about We Lead By Example, Inc.'s Walk and Rally for National Bullying Prevention Month and received several calls after the show aired. The September 25 Andrews Gazette also published an online article (at this link) that appeared on the front page of its print edition (at this link). The PACER organization (at this link) also posted our event as one of the national partners in its October Walk, Run, Roll Against Bullying events.
Dr. Thomas was invited by Girl Scout Troop 4733 to give a self-defense and anti-bullying awareness presentation at the troop's open November 18 meeting, kindly hosted this month at the local Knights of Columbus building in District Heights. About 40 girls and their mothers attended this event although it was the coldest night of the year. The girls learned a few simple self-defense techniques to employ should someone try to grab them on the street and other street-smarts tips, including how to speak forcefully and the use of a family code word if approached by an acquaintance or even a family member in an unusual or potentially dangerous kidnapping situation. They acted out a school scene skit about leaders and followers in a situation in which they would have to make choices involving peer pressure to be a bully, even to the extent of assaulting an innocent person. Would they choose to be followers and do something wrong because they would want to fit in? What would be the consequences of their actions? The interactional discussion was eye-opening for them because they thought through the effects of their choices and actions. Dr. Thomas also offered safety tips for the adults of particular importance around the holiday season. He looks forward to being invited back in the near future to share more of his simple self-defense techniques and skits, and to have more in-depth discussions based on the experiences and thoughts of the girls themselves about bullying and other situations they face in school, on the street, and at home. Photos will be posted at this link.
On Friday, November 7, Dr. Thomas participated in a youth and family event at New Chapel Baptist Church in Camp Springs. Organized by Ms. Belinda Queen-Howard, the head of the District III Coffee Circle that meets at Wegmans each month and a member of the Prince George's County Democratic Committee staff, as well as new board member of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, she organized this session of the church's monthly Celebrate Recovery program. Recognizing that bullying does not just happen in the schools, but also in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, and, yes, churches, a group of about 50 youth and adults came out on a cold night to learn how to recognize bullying, to talk about it frankly, and to get some ideas about how to handle it and other conflicts using a proactive approach to obtain a positive outcome. Dr. Thomas spoke about bullying and involved the youth in discussion and in a skit about being a leader, not a follower, underscoring that it is important for an individual to have the confidence to turn away from actions he or she knows to be wrong, no matter the amount of peer pressure. He also showed a few simple self-defense techniques in the event someone tries to grab a victim on the street. Dr. Thomas was invited back to provide in-depth workshops, not only for the children, but also for adults, about bullying prevention, date violence, domestic violence, and senior citizen safety.
Photo Slideshow:Go to our News Photos page for a slideshow of pictures taken by Michael Hornberger.
Dr. Thomas thanks the Rambler students, their families, and friends who came out to support the Rambler organization in hosting its free National Bullying Prevention Month Workshop. This free workshop was convened in partnership with Hyper Bully Defense, a martial arts organization based in California, which has formed an international consortium of professional martial arts organizations with a goal to empower 1 million people to end bullying (Hyper 1 Million). These organizations took part in three webinars to prepare to hold workshops worldwide, on either October 11 or October 25, 2014. The Ramblers are proud to have participated in this effort, in our case also showing unity with October's Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities and one of its Bladensburg-based partner organizations, the Seniors against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group, for which nonperishable food items were collected at the workshop to be donated for its monthly free food distribution to the community at the Bladensburg Community Center. About 150 people attended the Rambler event, which was held at the Bladensburg Community Center, as part of the instructional curriculum for Rambler students.
Participants engaged in floor exercises on the gym mats and learned or reinforced safety tips and basic escape methods. They also engaged in interactive skits using props (a school, houses, a car, and a school bus) showing how to deal with untenable or threatening situations. They learned how being a bully is not something positive in either their lives or in the lives of other people, and how much better it is to become friends with schoolmates and work together. The theme of being leaders, not followers, was demonstrated by the participants in one of the interactive skits, and it was exemplified by the featured performances of two talented and creative local youth, D'Aira Sweeney (a college student who graduated from Bladensburg High School) and Juwan Blocker (a sophomore in high school). Ms. Sweeney, who was honored to be chosen to sing the national anthem for President Barack Obama when he visited Bladensburg High School in 2014, performed the patriotic song not only professionally, but rendered it with exceptional meaning. Mr. Blocker performed a moving and thought-provoking original composition on bullying and the personal responsibility of youth to be passionate and to speak up and be heard.
Community activists William Murry (motivational speaker, The Murry Group) and Sandra Pruitt and Sylvester Jones (People for Change Coalition) encouraged self-motivation to excel in life and the need for involvement by individuals and organizations in addressing issues of concern to the wider community, respectively. PFC David Calloway (Bladensburg Community Oriented Policing Services or C.O.P.S.) interacted with the participants about their ideas and views of bullying, including cyberbullying, and explained the consequences of bullying in the eyes of the law. Mr. Jones, who was a Democratic candidate for Prince George's County sheriff in 2014, also touched on some of his insights from a long career in law enforcement. Several local and county officials were in attendance as well and briefly addressed their bullying experiences: Diana Fennell and Jimmy Tarlau (Democratic candidates for Legislative District 47A House of Delegates in the midterm election), Walter Ficklin (Bladensburg Town Councilmember), and Belinda Queen-Howard (founder of the Legislative District III Coffee Circle, recently elected to a position on the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee). After the interactional bus scene was performed by the youth, they shared their personal stories of being bullied on the bus or elsewhere, or of having seen bullying done to others. Dr. Thomas encouraged them to think retrospectively, about what actions they took at the time of the events, and speak about the actions they might take today in the same situation. The workshop ended with awarding $10 each to the five winners of the Rambler poster contest: S. Albert, G. Bravo, A. Davidson, D. Jenifer (older brother), and M. Smith. The posters were creative and eye-catching, and it was clear that these Ramblers had put a great deal of thought into the theme of bullying. In addition to the acknowledgments below, Dr. Thomas appreciates the extraordinary assistance rendered by the following Rambler parents and families, who helped run errands for and set up and clean up on the day of the event: Kabeer Burns, Michael Hornberger, the Jenifers, the Seemangals, and Yulanda Swindell. Without their help, he and Ms. McCutchen would have had a much more difficult task.
We are grateful to Kabeer Burns, Harry Jenifer, Susan McCutchen, Edward and Lois Sanders, and Yulanda Swindell, and to the Town of Bladensburg and Wegmans for making financial contributions toward defraying the cost of this event.
We acknowledge Hyper Bully Defense (Roland Osborne) for the opportunity to join the international martial arts Hyper 1 Million bullying prevention initiative and PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center (Bailey Lindgren) for its programmatic support, and thank both organizations for their extensive informational resources.
We thank the Bladensburg Community Center (Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning) for hosting and assisting with the workshop arrangements (Christy Irving and staff). We appreciate the kind participation in and/or promotional support of Bladensburg’s mayor, council, town administrator, and staff; the District III Coffee Circle (Belinda Queen-Howard); the Greater Route 202 Coalition (Senator Joanne Benson and staff); the Greenbelt Aquatic and Fitness Center (Danielle Celdran); Lette’s Chat Blog Talk Radio/Washington, DC (Carlette Norwood); local area talented young people Juwan Blocker and D’Aira Sweeney; The Murry Group (William Murry); the People for Change Coalition (Sandra Pruitt and Sylvester Jones); the Prince George’s County Police Department and Triad/SALT (PFC David Calloway, Cpl. Tanya Smith, Cpl. James Woody); the Seniors against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group (Deacon Barbara Givens); and Walmart (Landover Hills, Maryland).
Dr. Thomas was interviewed about bullying prevention during a live 4:30 p.m. news segment on Prince George's Community Television on Monday, August 25. With the start of the new school year, he emphasized the importance of awareness on the part of parents and other concerned family members about what goes on in school and urged them to go to their children's schools to make themselves known to their teachers and other school staff, both to understand the social situation and to support the achievement of successful academics. Dr. Thomas spoke about how circumstances in a child's home or school life might turn that child into a bully, and noted that nonviolent solutions need to be sought, such as making the effort to counteract antagonistic behavior with a confident, unexpected friendly gesture that could possibly defuse the aggression and create a more supportive atmosphere among the students. The most important thing is to teach and encourage children to be leaders, not followers who are drawn into negative behaviors to try to get along with a bully. He added that although children do not want to be considered "snitches," they need to be encouraged to tell the teacher or other school officials and their parents if they are being bullied rather than allow the situation to intensify and lead to dire consequences.
Dr. Thomas' Interview Segment: The video is at this link and below.
Francis Scott Key Elementary School held its Career Day on June 12, the last full day of the 2013-2014 school year. Nineteen guests speakers were on hand for the event, including policemen and a K-9 team. Dr. Thomas addressed a group of about 60 kindergarten and first-grade students and engaged them in interactive skits to show them how to escape from a child snatcher and how to get help. The children were excited to participate in a skit about bullying and they learned the importance of being a leader and not a follower, even when tempted by peer pressure. He emphasized the need for a secret code word for each family to identify safe situations. Administrators, teachers, and students said they were anxious to have Dr. Thomas visit them during the next school year.
Prince George's County Schools are finishing the school year the week of June 9. Some of the schools are using the opportunity to host fun and interesting career days to give children something to think about as they go into the summer break. On June 10, Dr. Thomas was a guest at Cora L. Rice Elementary School's Career Day along with several other guests--including Park Police (with a horse), Metro bus drivers (with a bus), and representatives from police groups (including K-9 with dogs)--for a busy and exciting day. He spoke with about 80 students in four classes (third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students) about working as a team and supporting each other rather than succumbing to bullying behavior and making fun of each other in destructive ways. He urged the students to be leaders, not followers, and to study and work hard at school. Dr. Thomas also showed in interactive demonstrations several simple self-defense moves that children can do to get away from a child snatcher, as well as what to do after getting away in order to get to safety and have the proper authorities alerted. He emphasized the need for a secret code word for each family to identify safe situations.
On May 9, Dr. Thomas was pleased to participate in Career Day at Judge Sylvania W. Woods Sr. Elementary School. He talked with and engaged about 150 students, ranging from kindergarteners to sixth-graders, in interactive activities related to safety and bullying prevention (including cyberbullying). During the seven half-hour sessions, geared to each grade level, the children learned some simple self-defense methods they can use to escape from child snatchers, whether known to them or strangers, and also where to go and what to say after they get away from the pursuer and seek help. They participated in entertaining skits that underscored the need for families to have a secret code word that members can use to confirm who has been authorized to pick them up outside of the school building or in other locations. Another important skit was acting out a peer-pressure situation in which the students had to decide whether to be a leader who does the right thing or a follower who becomes a bully to be accepted in a group. Dr. Thomas thoroughly enjoyed Career Day and looks forward to going back to the school to work more with the children so they will be "street smart" and know how to protect themselves should there be a need.
On April 12, Dr. Thomas discussed verbal and physical bullying and other significant issues with a number of youth who participate in Teen Night at the Bladensburg Community Center. Other speakers included (in alphabetical order) Keith Dickerson (Founder and CEO of A-1 Transmission, who focuses on educating reentry persons who want to learn vehicle repair and on preparing people to become business owners); Brother Joe Gibson (a dedicated educator); Brother Larry Powell (a baptized, born-again Christian who has rededicated his life after having faced painful adversity largely of his own making for many years); and Reverend Annie Varner (a life educator who has created the "Under Wings of Eagles" program directed at helping young people). The final presentation was a short film that addressed teen pregnancy and its effect on the lives of the girls and the boys involved from the standpoint of young people who have found themselves in this difficult situation. This event was sponsored by the Seniors against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group, and was the brainchild of the moderator, Deacon Barbara Givens, who is the grandmother of a Rambler student and the support group's founder and president. The focus of the program was on promoting dialogue among senior citizens and young people in an effort to "eliminate crime and negative consequences while making better choices for a happier and more prosperous journey through life." The program was a great success and served as a first step to start bridging the gap between seniors and young people and to eventually lead to mutual respect and understanding. Dr. Thomas looks forward to reprising his role in this kind of positive dialogue.
On August 12-16, Dr. Thomas held his second Bullying Prevention and Self-Defense Summer Camp at Bladensburg Community Center. This year, he was honored to receive both a certificate of special recognition from Maryland U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin and a State of Maryland citation from the governor, lieutenant governor, and secretary of state for holding his bullying prevention camps. The number of campers was double that of the inaugural camp! The children who attended, including several with special needs, learned about bullying prevention, child snatching and child molesting, anger management, peer pressure, and street smarts and self defense. To underscore the importance of inclusion, Mr. Ray from Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning, visited to talk with the campers about his experience as a man who lost his sight as an adult. He encouraged them to try to understand others' limitations, to accommodate them appropriately (e.g., verbally giving directions to blind individuals to orient them to their physical location), and to show them proper respect. He showed few limitations, however, as he accepted the challenge to make a basket (which he did) with the campers' helpful instructions about where to aim and participated in a game of dodge ball. The campers also enjoyed learning about the basic structure of Braille. Mr. Greg Parker of The Brighter Future Anti-Bullying Foundation, stopped by to talk with the campers. They had a good conversation about what they already know, learned some new things, and highlighted some of their personal experiences. Several Ramblers worked as youth counselors and were of great help to Dr. Thomas throughout the week. He is exploring the possibility of holding two weeklong camps next summer to accommodate more students and help them become more confident and be safer in school and on the street.
Dr. Thomas partnered with Take Charge Juvenile Diversion Program, Inc., a co-member of the People for Change Coalition, and gave a seminar on bullying prevention and safety to youth attending the Take Charge Basketball and Life Skill Camp being held at the Eisenhower Middle School. He feels it is important to become involved in the community through these types of partnerships, not only to bring his experience and teach/mentor, but also to enhance his own work.
Dr. Thomas was invited by Girl Scout Troop 4092 to give an anti-bullying awareness presentation at the troop's open May 17 meeting at J. C. Parks Elementary School in Indian Head, Maryland. The girls performed anti-bullying skits that effectively portrayed the detrimental effects of bullying and offered measured responses that can be used to let bullies know that their behavior is unacceptable and encourage them to be more respectful and kinder to others. Ms. Anita Fendall (Founder, Tease Free Kids) spoke to the group and guests about the characteristics of bullying and showed by a hands-on art activity how destructive such behavior can be and how it causes permanent damage to individuals. In a sobering presentation, a video revealed a series of pictures of young people of all ages and races who have committed suicide (called bullycide), underscoring the negative effect of this widespread problem. The evening ended with the collected audience of girl scouts, their families, the invited guests, and other members of the audience reciting the anti-bullying pledge. In his presentation, Dr. Thomas had several of the scouts act out a skit about what it means to lead and what it means to follow in a situation with a high degree of peer pressure that undoubtedly will lead to doing something harmful to an unsuspecting bystander. He also demonstrated the importance of having family code words and ways to get an adult's attention should a child find himself or herself facing a potential predator, along with some simple self defense moves to get out of harm's way. As always, he welcomes opportunities such as this to bring his potentially life-saving programs to the community.
On Tuesday, April 2, five Rambler students (four gold belts, including two captains, and one white belt) gave up part of their spring breaks to provide anti-bullying and martial arts demonstrations at the YouthPowerment and What Will You Bring to the Table organizations' community breakfast at Kentland Community Center. This event was organized to allow local Kentland/Landover children to address issues of child hunger in the United States. Youth and their families were offered healthy food choices for their breakfasts and learned about proper nutrition and healthy living through presentations about proper dental care and more safe, effective, and affordable dental care products, a simple stress management activity, and a few social etiquette suggestions to make people aware that social presence matters in how a person may be judged by others. Dr. Thomas and his Ramblers were the culmination of the activities, and their demonstrations included audience participation by a number of young people who were anxious to join in the fun that provided several important safety tips for both children and their families and showed why it is better to be a leader instead of a follower.
Gregory Parker, Executive Director of The Brighter Future Anti-Bullying Foundation, asked Dr. Thomas to present an anti-bullying demonstration to the students of Oaklands Elementary School in a morning workshop on Friday, March 22. Along with Dr. Michael Garrant, President and CEO of Smart Coach TKD Center, Inc., he addressed bullying issues relevant to elementary school students and encouraged them to think about their personal actions toward others and about the actions of others in bullying situations they may observe in their school. In an impromptu skit that included the participation of several students, Ms. Audrey Briscoe (the principal), and other school staff members, Dr. Thomas showed the difference between leaders and followers. Leaders think independently about doing the right thing and leading by example through their appropriate actions. Followers, on the other hand, if they are weak in their convictions about the difference between right and wrong and decide to bow to social pressure, may allow others to lead them into situations where other people can be hurt and they themselves may end up suffering serious consequences. It was clear that these well-behaved students wanted to be leaders! In addition to the presentations by the invited guests, a student read a poem about the need for all students to stand up against bullying wherever they see it happen because it is wrong; a group of students performed a musical skit that takes place in a classroom and underscored the message that bullying is not acceptable and that all students should speak out against it; and, finally, the third-grade chorus sang an inspirational song encouraging each person to appreciate himself or herself and recognize that he or she is worthwhile, a sentiment that can become lost when a child is bullied and loses self confidence. For photos of the event, see the slideshow on the News Photos page.
Facebook Photos Albums for This Event: The photos are at this link.
Dr. Thomas shared his experience and thoughts on bullying on this radio show hosted by Greg Parker, Jr., and Greg Parker, Sr. He also spoke about his upcoming Bullying Prevention and Self-Defense Summer Camp to be held at Bladensburg Community Center, and how important it is for children to learn how to defend themselves and not become victims.
Dr. Thomas was invited to partner with It Takes Two, Inc., and I-Tellkid, Inc., to address bullying prevention strategies in Part II of the Fear is No Fun Anti-Bullying Workshop. He closed out the event talking about some of the issues involved in bullying behavior, from both the victim's and the bully's perspectives, and he demonstrated several practical self-defense techniques.
Dr. Thomas was invited by Ms. Germell Brown, Troop Leader, to participate in the Cadette Girl Scout Troop #2296's "Be a Buddy, Not a Bully" anti-bullying workshop on Saturday, January 26, at the Hemingway Memorial AME Church. Following the morning's workshop presentations, both video and interactive, and including presentations about cyber, verbal, and physical and indirect bullying, his dynamic self-defense demonstration with both youth and adult audience participants capped off the early afternoon's events prior to the convening of breakout sessions. Dr. Thomas (President and CEO, We Lead By Example, Inc., and the Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems), with fellow panel members Mr. Gregory Parker, Sr. (Executive Director, The Brighter Future Anti-Bullying Foundation, Inc.) and Mr. Jerrod Mustaf (Executive Director, Take Charge Program), participated in an experts/parents/educators panel discussion about the prevention of bullying and assistance for children who have been or are being bullied. Ms. Jaemellah Kemp (Founder and President, It Takes Two, Inc.) spoke after the breakout sessions and led into the girl scouts taking their anti-bullying pledges. Dr. Thomas is dedicated to helping prevent bullying and other forms of predatory behavior by teaching children and adults in an entertaining and thought-provoking way how to protect themselves mentally and physically. He welcomes opportunities such as this workshop to bring his interactive and potentially life-saving programs for people of all ages to the community.
The inaugural Bullying Prevention and Self-Defense Summer Camp at Bladensburg Community Center was a great success. The children who attended, including several with special needs, learned about child snatching and child molesting prevention, anger management, coping with peer pressure, and dealing with bullies and other conflict situations. Mr. C. Ray Spires III, Chairman/CEO of The Safe Web Inc., a company that focuses on Internet safety for children, highlighted the realities of using social media, including the dangers associated with bullying, sexual predators, and gangs. Other guests were two representatives from the Mt. Rainier Nature Center, who spoke about amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, and brought a turtle, a snake, and a rabbit for the children to observe and touch. A park ranger engaged the children in a competitive game of Jeopardy to test their knowledge about natural phenomena. Two news station reporters and camera people came to the center to report on and film this unique camp--News Channel 7 (WJLA) for Leon Harris' program, Harris' Heroes, and Prince George's Community Television (CTV). A representative from Senator Barbara Mikulski's office observed the camp and offered the Senator's strong support of Dr. Thomas' efforts to help children in the community. To cap off the week, Dr. Thomas was surprised by three Bladensburg Town Councilmembers who came to visit on the last day of the camp. Mayor Walter James and Councilmembers Walter George and Trina Brown presented a Senate of Maryland citation to Dr. Thomas on behalf of Senator Victor R. Ramirez to recognize and congratulate him for his commitment to Prince George’s County and his willingness to establish and teach the first Bullying Prevention and Self-Defense Summer Camp at Bladensburg Community Center. Dr. Thomas thanks the hardworking Rambler youth counselors who assisted him with the camp and, as noted by WJLA anchor Leon Harris, he looks forward to planning other such activities in the future and working with the Prince George's County school system.
WJLA (ABC) News Story: The August 22 Harris' Heroes segment is featured below.
The segment about Dr. Thomas' bullying prevention and self-defense summer camp is at this link.
Dr. Thomas was interviewed during a live 4:30 p.m. news segment on Prince George's Community Television on Monday, August 6. He spoke about his upcoming Bullying Prevention and Self-Defense Summer Camp to be held at Bladensburg Community Center, and how important it is for children to learn how to defend themselves and not become victims.
Dr. Thomas gave a bullying prevention and self-defense demonstration for the Lamont Elementary School Parent Teacher Association meeting on Wednesday, April 18. He showed the children ways to avoid being snatched or molested and tips about being cautious when they are on the street, including the need to have a family code word, and if they are approached by a stranger or even a person familiar to them who may mean to harm them. These self-defense methods take time to become ingrained, especially for young children, and Dr. Thomas encourages parents to work with their children to understand what they are taught and to enroll them in interactive programs so that they will better understand the mechanisms for being careful in situations when they are away from their parents.
On Saturday, April 4, Dr. Clifford Thomas (We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems), in partnership with Mrs. Sharron Dansby (Maximizing God's Woman, Inc.) and the People for Change Coalition's Public Safety Committee, held the Protecting the Young and Innocent: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Workshop at Bladensburg Community Center. People for Change Coalition Public Safety Committee members who participated, in addition to Dr. Thomas, Mrs. Dansby, Major Victoria Brock, and Ms. Susan McCutchen (workshop subcommittee members), were Sylvester Jones (committee chair) and Chauncey Brewer. A free event providing interactional activities and information for the entire family, this workshop was convened to mark April 2015's Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The participants learned how to prevent, detect, and mitigate the effects of child abuse. They were treated to Rambler student Nathaniel Potts opening the program with an excellent rendition of the national anthem. The program began with "Know the Facts and Break the Cycle" (Maximizing God's Woman, Inc.), which featured posters made by children that presented statistics about child sexual abuse. Narrated by Dr. Thomas, Rambler students performed skits, including the use of various props--police, fireman, and sports "hats," and a priest's collar--to demonstrate that the roles people play do not necessarily reflect their character and that they, too, can be child abusers. Students also demonstrated simple self-defense moves that children can remember, as well as "street smarts," such as the use of family safety code words. The afternoon featured "Enough is Enough: NO Excuse for Child Abuse," a session for adults, facilitated by Maximizing God's Woman, which provided information, generated discussion, and featured representatives from the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, law enforcement representatives, and a video and slide presentation. Dignitaries (Bladensburg Mayor Walter James and Council Members Walter Ficklin and Beverly Hall, and Jimmy Tarlau, representing District 47), Major Brock and Bladensburg and other police representatives, and activists who came out to support the workshop made brief remarks to underscore the importance of community events such as these.
Online and Print Newspaper Coverage: The April 10 Andrews Gazette article with photos can be downloaded here and is featured on page 3 of the print edition at this link. Story and photos are by photojournalist Bobby Jones.
Dr. Thomas thanks Bladensburg Community Center's Christy Irving, Byron Jones, and staff for hosting and assisting with the workshop arrangements. He was pleased that some of his Rambler students and families came out to show their support, and particularly acknowledges adults Harry Jenifer, Andrea Seemangal, and Yulanda Swindell, and youths Darion Jenifer and Adrian Seemangal, for going above and beyond in their assistance. We also thank Wegmans at Woodmore Town Centre for providing partial financial support for the afternoon snacks.
CTV taped an interview with Dr. Thomas at Bladensburg Community Center that aired on CTV News on April 1. He described his upcoming Protecting the Young and Innocent: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Workshop to be held at Bladensburg Community Center on April 4, and briefly addressed the lifelong ill effects of child sexual abuse on the victims and possible ways to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Dr. Clifford Thomas and invited guests Dr. Deborah Parker, a psychologist who works with seniors, and a financial planner who focuses on seniors to address their various housing needs at every stage of their lives, including nursing homes and other care situations that may arise, held a seminar for seniors at the Camp Springs Senior Activity Center on Thursday, May 10. The attendees learned about a number of scams aimed at seniors, including the dating/romance schemes, which surprisingly tops the list for frequency, as well as many other ways scammers target seniors to get their money and steal their identities through telephone calls and on the Internet. They also heard about the alarmingly high costs of housing in reitrement communities and at nursing homes. Dr. Thomas and two of his adult students, Harry Jenifer and Susan McCutchen, interacted with the audience and provided safety tips, showing several simple self-defense methods with or without a weapon (cane, rubber knife) and acting out scams at the gas pump and leaving a store going into the parking lot. Action-packed and informational, the attendees were pleased they had learned something and thirsty to expand their knowledge.
Andrews Gazette's September 1 print e-edition online is found at this link and as seen in the print edition at this link (page 1) and this link (page 5). The article and photos are by photojournalist Bobby Jones.
The Senior Beacon, Washington edition, published an article about the symposium in its October 2017 newspaper. The article, written by Alexis Bentz, is online at this link (on pages 11 and 12).
We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems, in partnership with the M-NCPPC and the Bladensburg Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative, provided a senior safety and self-defense symposium for seasoned citizens age 55 and better at Bladensburg Community Center in Bladensburg, Maryland, on Tuesday, August 22. This symposium was a free community event focusing on basic safety and self-defense in many situations faced by and of interest to seniors. Dr. Thomas and his students, with the participation of audience members, demonstrated a few simple self-defense methods and performed some everyday "street smarts" skits with props. The attendees received important legislative updates from Senator Joanne C. Benson, Delegate Jazz Lewis, Malcom Augustine (WMATA Board member), and Pokuaa Owusu-Acheaw (representing Senator Chris Van Hollen); financial and prevalent scam information from State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks; and police and fire safety tips from Chief Elliott W. Gibson, Jr. (District Heights Police Department) and Michael Ruggier (Bladensburg Fire Department). The symposium offered so much good information that the audience was left wanting more, especially of the interactive self-defense moves taught by Dr. Thomas and his entertaining safety skits. Dr. Thomas thanks his guest speakers for taking time out of their busy schedules to come out for the symposium. He also thanks the local Subway Restaurant (6731 Annapolis Road) for the lunch enjoyed by everyone after the symposium and for their contribution of free dessert. Special thanks goes to his adult students H. Jenifer and S. McCutchen and youth students A. Hernandez, E. Hernandez, D. Jenifer and D. Jenifer (brothers), and E. Martinez, who not only performed but were instrumental in the planning, set-up, food service, and clean-up. You can always count on the Rambler family! Dr. Thomas also thanks reporters from the Andrews Gazette and The Senior Beacon for coming out to cover the symposium. Positive news for the community is so rare these days!
Dr. Thomas and adult student S. McCutchen provided a senior safety and self-defense seminar for seniors at a Community Outreach and Development event in Capitol Heights, Maryland, on Tuesday, March 28. They stressed that it is important to be vigilant about safety in many situations seniors face on the street and at home. They also demonstrated a few simple self-defense methods and performed some everyday "street smarts" skits. The audience wholeheartedly endorsed Dr. Thomas returning soon to give another seminar.
Dr. Thomas, adult student S. McCutchen, and youth student A. Seemangal provided a senior safety and self-defense seminar for an enthusiastic group of seniors at the Kiwanis International 2016 Northern Capital District Leadership Development Conference in Silver Spring on Saturday, August 6. They spoke about safety, self-defense, and bullying, and they demonstrated a few simple self-defense methods and performed some everyday "street smarts" skits. They stressed street smarts as an important part of your daily life (remaining vigilant about what is happening around you, whether at home, in your neighborhood, or wherever you travel in order to be more safe) and acting quickly and confidently to create the element of surprise that will help you escape a dangerous situation (do not allow yourself to be taken from Point A to Point B because escape at that juncture will become more difficult). Dr. Thomas appreciates the invitation to be a speaker at this conference and looks forward to continuing to work with Kiwanis International.
Dr. Thomas participated at the Emerson House Health Fair on Wednesday, May 18. He spoke with many seniors who attended and provided information about his Saving the Seniors program. This program addresses the many issues that affect seniors, from bullying to elder abuse to scams to physical assault, because they may be perceived as weak or helpless and easy targets. He will return to Emerson House on June 1 for a Bullying Prevention for Seniors seminar.
Dr. Thomas and Bladensburg COPS Officer David Calloway spoke with senior residents of Emerson House on Wednesday, June 1. They and the residents had a lively exchange about the subject of and their actual experiences with bullying. The takeaway messages were that there are many types of bullying, verbal and physical, and that there are many ways to address bullying behaviors, depending on the situation. It was clear that more such seminars need to be held to address the issues raised. Dr. Thomas will return soon to demonstrate safety and self-defense methods to the residents in an interactive seminar tailored to them. These methods can be used in the event that bullying and other behaviors escalate to a level where they need to protect themselves and avoid injury before they contact the appropriate authorities.
Dr. Thomas and Ms. McCutchen were invited by St. Mary's County Department of Aging & Human Services to do a safety and self-defense seminar for seniors at the Garvey Senior Activity Center in Leonardtown, Maryland, on Wednesday, April 20. They are always pleased to participate in and promote Triad/SALT activities throughout Maryland.
The Princess Garden Hickory Hills Neighborhood Association invited Dr. Thomas to do a senior safety and self-defense seminar at its monthly meeting. This organization is concerned about the community and its members are trying to do their part to keep themselves and the other residents safe and to improve the quality of all of their lives.The seniors learned some basic self-defense techniques. They also learned about safety through skits showing possible dangerous situations at the grocery store and the gas station, as well as from discussion about scams perpetrated on seniors. Dr. Thomas explained that while it is often difficult for them to accept, seniors need to be aware that they are part of the street and are often targeted as victims by individuals (sometimes even by family members in the home) who may wish to do them physical or psychological harm.
As a follow-up to his June 8 Bladensburg workshop, Dr. Thomas was invited by District III Officer Krystal Culbreth to provide a seminar for a group of Triad/SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) seniors on Wednesday, June 17. With audience participation, he showed several simple self-defense techniques. He also performed skits to show examples of seniors becoming prey to scams, abductions, and robberies. As one participant asserted, it is important to show easy-to-remember, uncomplicated techniques that can be enacted quickly to get away from an attacker. Otherwise, a prolonged encounter with dire consequences can be anticipated.
On Monday, June 8, Dr. Clifford Thomas (We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems) held Senior Safety and Self-Defense Workshop at Bladensburg Community Center. Approximately 25 people attended, including local police representatives. We become more vulnerable as we grow older and often face increasing difficulties relative to our age and decreasing physical abilities. Dr. Thomas is a world-renown safety and self-defense expert who takes these factors into account and works extensively with seniors to teach them street smarts so they will become more confident and feel more comfortable in their daily interactions and activities. With audience participation, he showed several simple self-defense techniques--how to escape from a chokehold, defend yourself from a knife being held at your throat, break free from someone who grabs your wrists, and use a cane to defend yourself--as well as performed skits with one of his adult students and an audience member about abduction and scam/theft situations, for example, in the parking lot at a grocery store or at a gas station. The Bladensburg (POFC David Calloway, Officer Garcia, and Ms. Dana Duncan) and District II (Officer Krystal Culbreth) police representatives briefly described the services they provide for seniors and distributed safety and crime-reporting materials. Participants left wanting to learn more about how they can empower themselves so they will feel more safe as they go about their very active lives.
Online and Print Newspaper Coverage: The June 12 Andrews Gazette first-published article is featured online in All About Martial Arts news at this link and on page 5 of the Andrews Gazette print edition at this link. A pdf document can be downloaded here. Story and photos are by photojournalist Bobby Jones.
CTV taped an interview with Dr. Thomas at Bladensburg Community Center that aired on CTV News on June 1. He spoke briefly about his upcoming Senior Safety and Self-Defense Workshop to be held at Bladensburg Community Center on June 8, and demonstrated with his assistant a few simple self-defense moves using a cane, as well as a way to escape from a chokehold.
The Harmony Haller seniors invited Dr. Thomas back to the Harmony Hall Regional Center to conduct a seminar for seniors to reprise his practical self-defense demonstrations and offer important safety information and instruction in street smarts for seniors, particularly considering the upcoming holiday season and the usual upswing in crime. Twenty-five seniors enjoyed the interactive two-hour session and learned about suggested ways to deal with situations on the street and in their homes in which they might feel threatened or are in danger of being accosted. By bringing his methods to the seniors, he hopes to give them confidence and empower them so that they will be able to better enjoy their lives.
Dr. Thomas gave a safety seminar for about 25 seniors at New Redeemer Baptist Church on Sunday, August 10. He spoke with them about their perceived vulnerability because they are older and some use a cane or a walker. Dr. Thomas demonstrated some basic self-defense moves and provided safety tips, with a particular focus on scams being perpetrated on unsuspecting seniors because they tend to be more trusting. As was pointed out during the discussion, while a person should practice the golden rule, it is important to be street smart and aware of one's surroundings in order to not become a victim of a physical, financial, or psychological assault.
Congresswoman Donna Edwards invited Dr. Thomas to participate in her May 13 Senior Citizen Resource & Information Fair at Hillcrest Heights Community Center. At the event, he demonstrated some basic self-defense methods and provided safety tips for seniors (and anybody else) to keep in mind as they are out shopping or on the street. These events focused on seniors are particularly important as an increasing number of older people are out and about doing many different activities and may find themselves targeted because they may be perceived as being vulnerable.
On April 12, Dr. Thomas discussed verbal and physical bullying and other significant issues with a number of youth who participate in Teen Night at the Bladensburg Community Center. Other speakers included (in alphabetical order) Keith Dickerson (Founder and CEO of A-1 Transmission, who focuses on educating reentry persons who want to learn vehicle repair and on preparing people to become business owners); Brother Joe Gibson (a dedicated educator); Brother Larry Powell (a baptized, born-again Christian who has rededicated his life after having faced painful adversity largely of his own making for many years); and Reverend Annie Varner (a life educator who has created the "Under Wings of Eagles" program directed at helping young people). The final presentation was a short film that addressed teen pregnancy and its effect on the lives of the girls and the boys involved from the standpoint of young people who have found themselves in this difficult situation. This event was sponsored by the Seniors against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group, and was the brainchild of the moderator, Deacon Barbara Givens, who is the grandmother of a Rambler student and the support group's founder and president. The focus of the program was on promoting dialogue among senior citizens and young people in an effort to "eliminate crime and negative consequences while making better choices for a happier and more prosperous journey through life." The program was a great success and served as a first step to start bridging the gap between seniors and young people and to eventually lead to mutual respect and understanding. Dr. Thomas looks forward to reprising his role in this kind of positive dialogue in the upcoming monthly "rap" sessions that will begin in May 2014.
On March 11, Dr. Thomas was invited back to the Hillcrest Community Center to give a senior self-defense demonstration for the Hillcrest Heights Seniors Social Club during their monthly meeting. He demonstrated some basic self-defense methods and provided safety tips for seniors to keep in mind as they are out shopping or going to the gas station. He was invited back to give an extended workshop to include hands-on practice for the large club membership.
Dr. Thomas partnered with Cpl. Lucy Muse (Prince George's County Police Department) to give a seminar for seniors about the importance of self awareness in regard to safety. Thirty attendees came to the event and learned a few basic self-defense moves and discussed scams perpetrated on seniors. He stressed that they need to assess the safety aspects of their surroundings (for example, people who are loitering or acting suspiciously) and to take precautions, such as letting someone in the family or a friend know when they anticipate arriving home, not getting out of their cars if they are being insistently bumped from behind on the highway, not pulling over in an isolated area if they do need to stop, and being wary of particularly helpful strangers who may actually be setting them up to be robbed or assaulted. The seniors expressed their appreciation for the tips about street and home "smarts" and asked Dr. Thomas to come back to teach them more.
At the invitation of Cpl. Wantalex Tilus (Prince George's County Police Department) and Ms. Darlesa Masago (Senior Fitness Instructor, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission), Dr. Thomas provided 80 seniors in Ms. Masago's fitness class with a basic self-defense demonstration and discussed scams perpetrated on seniors with them. The attendees greatly appreciated seeing the practical physical techniques he showed and participated in a good discussion about the need to practice those techniques so they become automatic responses, to be aware of one's surroundings, and to be street smart and aware of ways in which they can adjust their lifestyles by including everyday safety methods. These include letting someone know when they anticipate arriving home, not getting out of their cars if they are being insistently bumped from behind on the highway, and being wary of and savvy about how to handle seemingly kindly or "safe" strangers who approach them with possible trickery or assault in mind. At the end of the session, the group clamored for more in-depth classes and additional potentially life-saving tips. Dr. Thomas indicated that he would be happy to return on a regular basis to work with this impressive group of active and enthusiastic seniors who are keen to learn how to improve their lives physically and to become safer on the street and at home.
Dr. Thomas was asked to talk about summer safety senior street smarts and give a senior self-defense demonstration at Senator Joanne Benson's Maryland's 24th Legislative District 202 Coalition meeting, the last one before the summer break. The coalition meets monthly to discuss the needs of the Prince George's County 202 corridor as well as the many crosscutting issues that concern the rest of the county and the State of Maryland. Dr. Thomas is active in this coalition and several other grassroots organizations that engage in productive civic actions to improve the lives of the residents in our community.
Dr. Thomas participated in the Maryland State's Attorney for Prince George's County World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event at The Mall at Prince George's on Friday, June 14. This year's event primarily consisted of presentations by various Maryland officials representing state departments/offices that address issues related to elder abuse, whether physical violence or fraud, from both strangers/scam artists and people known to the victims (including family members, even grandchildren). Officiating at the event was the Honorable Senator Joanne C. Benson, with whom Dr. Thomas actively partners through her Greater Route 202 Coalition. Of special note were the skilfully executed and moving musical performances by Mrs. Carolyn Butler (Senior Idol 2012) and Mr. Irvin Haywood (Senior Idol 2013). World elder abuse is a shocking and widespread problem, and Dr. Thomas aims to make the senior population more street smart through his programs so they will not fall prey to the unconscionable acts so frequently being perpetrated on them.
On May 22, for the seventh year in a row, Dr. Thomas gave two senior self-defense demonstrations at the annual Senior Health and Fitness Day at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex. In addition to government program, care community, and other senior services exhibitors, tai chi, hand dancing, chair exercise, aerobics, line dancing, Zumba Gold, walking on the indoor track, and aquatic activities were offered for senior participation. Health screenings and massage therapy were also made available. The purpose of this event is to promote health and wellness for seniors (ages 60 and better) in celebration of Older Americans Month and National Senior Health & Fitness Day. Seniors in Prince George's look forward to this special day set aside for them and come out in force to take part and strut their stuff in the fun activities, as well as to learn about services and other programs with them in mind found in Prince George's County. Dr. Thomas is equally pleased to support this wonderful event by showing seniors how to be street smart and how to protect themselves.
On Wednesday, January 4, Dr. Thomas gave a basic self-defense demonstration and discussed scams at the monthly meeting of the Prince George's County District III Coffee Circle held at Wegmans in the Woodmore Towne Centre in Largo, Maryland. This activity is a "public forum for ALL citizens, business owners, organizations, and public officials" who share helpful information at meetings that "focus on common concerns expressed by residents of District III." District III police officers and representatives attend these meetings to provide information, answer questions, and interact directly with the district's residents. Dr. Thomas looks forward to becoming further involved in District III community safety programs and to working with the district's officials to coordinate district activities across the county, including senior safety education and bullying prevention.
Dr. Thomas gave a demonstration at a meeting of about 30 seniors at the Lake Arbor Community Center on Tuesday, September 25. They were not expecting to learn so much in such a short time, and were excited at the prospect of him returning to give a more in-depth demonstration. After the demonstration, he worked with some of the seniors who were anxious to learn more immediately. Dr. Thomas looks forward to returning to Lake Arbor to conduct another interactive session.
A scorcher of a day could not keep Dr. Thomas away from giving a senior safety and self-defense demonstration at the FirstChristian Community Church in Annapolis, Maryland, on Saturday, June 28, at their summer picnic. After enjoying a fantastic barbecue (kudos to those who sat out under the hot sun all day to cook) with a variety of mouth-watering, home-cooked side dishes and desserts, the seniors who gathered to see Dr. Thomas found out about ways to be more street smart and learned some basic self-defense techniques. He indicated that he would be pleased to do what he can to continue educating seniors at this church and in Annapolis about how to protect themselves from predators.
The Swinging Senior Saints invited Dr. Thomas to give a safety and self-defense demonstration at their Action Soul Fest. This special event was held at the Martin Luther King Community Church in Columbia, and featured Office of Aging representatives, Social Security and other helpful information, and music and entertainment, including a skillful and movingly rendered spiritual sung by a Saint member. A senior who will soon celebrate her 100th birthday was feted on this occasion as well. Dr. Thomas found a receptive audience, whose members were interested not only in their own welfare as they face possible unfortunate situations in which people may try to take advantage of them, but they also expressed concern about the safety of their children and grandchildren. It was the general consensus that it would be beneficial for the residents of Howard County if Dr. Thomas held safety and self-defense seminars in various venues for people of all ages.
Seniors are abused by family, friends, and strangers physically, psychologically, and through scams designed to take their money because they tend to be regarded as fragile, vulnerable, and easy to be manipulated. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day has been designated to bring this unfortunate situation to light. As part of the S.A.L.T. Seniors & Law Enforcement Together organization, Dr. Thomas participates annually in the Stop Elder Abuse event at the Mall at Prince George's by bringing his expertise in self-defense for seniors through his interactive demonstration of practical ways to fend off attackers both physically and by becoming streetwise and avoiding dangerous situations. This event is sponsored by a number of law enforcement, county and local, and other senior organizations, and the Ramblers' We Lead By Example, Inc., nonprofit is one of the partnering organizations. The many seniors who came to Stop Elder Abuse, including a 101-year-old woman (shown below with Senator Joanne Benson), were provided an abundance of important information on neglect, abuse, financial crimes, scams, and identity theft, and they learned several helpful tips from Dr. Thomas that can help them gain confidence and possibly save their lives should they find themselves in a dangerous situation.
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 of a continuing activity 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.
Seniors were treated to three of Dr. Thomas' educational and highly-entertaining demonstrations of "street smarts" at this annual event to celebrate Older Americans Month and National Senior Health & Fitness Day at the Wayne K. Curry Sports & Learning Center in Landover, Maryland. For his sixth year as a feature of this event, two sessions were planned, but a number of seniors who had gathered into another large group demanded a third, and Dr. Thomas was pleased to stay to accommodate them. His simple self-defense techniques and acting out of scams led them to realize that they have choices in their lives and do not have to feel that they are destined to become victims with no recourse but to submit to the physical attacks or unseemly trickery of violent or unscrupulous individuals. The event also featured tai chi, hand dancing, chair exercise, walking the indoor track, belly dancing, aquatic activities, zumba gold, chair yoga, line dancing, massage therapy, health screenings, and exhibits.
Dr. Thomas was honored to be invited to provide a senior self-defense demonstration at the Maryland State Bar Association Leadership Academy's Elder Law Symposium, Navigating the Elder Care Maze: What You Need to Know About the Legal Issues Facing Older Adults and Their Caregivers, which was sponsored by the Legal Studies Institute of Anne Arundel Community College. Panels on estate planning, cost of care, and elder abuse prevention, and a stress relief presentation geared toward helping seniors cope better with their daily lives and caregivers who are under a great deal of stress being responsible for the well-being of a loved one were also on the agenda. Dr. Thomas' lively and informative demonstration was well received by the crowd that numbered about 50. He was given a certificate of appreciation plaque for his participation in this event. He in turn appreciates the opportunity to be a part of this kind of initiative that brings vital information to seniors and helps them become better informed and more aware of their legal choices, and promotes efforts to help them live better, safer, and more comfortable lives.
Dr. Thomas was pleased to have been invited back to Maryland's 24th Legislative District Senator Joanne Benson's 202 Coalition to follow up on his senior self-defense demonstration at the coalition's February 27 meeting. The 202 Coalition is a very active community group that meets monthly not only to discuss the needs of the Prince George's County 202 corridor, but the many crosscutting issues that concern the rest of the county and the State of Maryland. Dr. Thomas is an active member of this grassroots organization whose members "talk the talk and walk the walk," accomplishing many important civic actions to improve the lives of the residents in our community.
On Monday, March 19, Dr. Thomas gave a senior street smarts and self-defense demonstration to 25 members of the active Central Civic Association of the Wilburn Community, who regularly meet at Walker Mill Middle School in Capitol Heights. He showed several simple self-defense methods, such as using the cane as a weapon, and addressed scams that are perpetrated on seniors by predators of various kinds. He emphasized that seniors do not need to make themselves vulnerable even if they may be perceived to be defenseless by those who choose to prey on them. In thanking him for the demonstration, the president of the association remarked on behalf of the members that "everyone was thrilled! They all said that they were able to remember and will possibly be able to implement at least one of the exercises you taught us." Dr. Thomas said he would be pleased to return to go into more depth in an interactive seminar with group participation.
Dr. Thomas was invited by Cpl. Tanya Smith to give a senior self-defense demonstration at a Prince George's Police Department District III Station Neighborhood Watch Training meeting for Palmer Park residents held on Wednesday, March 14. Fifty seniors attended the session, and they heard from speakers about issues related to neighborhood watch and dealing with crime, criminal activity, and criminals, including important issues related to the reentry of individuals who have served time into the community. In keeping with the title of the session, Taking Neighborhood Watch to the Next Level, Dr. Thomas wrapped up the presentations by police and government representatives by demonstrating a few simple self-defense methods and showing and discussing scams. This supports the plea from the police for vigilance by neighborhood residents to help them by spotting and reporting potential crime situations or untoward activities going on in or around their neighborhoods. The next level, and the goal of his Saving the Seniors and other programs, e.g., bullying prevention, is to build the physical and mental self-defense skills of individuals. In this case, his teaching is geared to those who participate in neighborhood watches, either directly or indirectly, by demonstrating simple ways to defend themselves should they be approached physically by someone exhibiting suspicious behavior or clear malicious intent as they patrol the streets or as they keep an eye from their homes on what is happening outside on the streets or at their neighbors' houses. An experienced neighborhood watcher in his own right and an expert in self-defense and scams, Dr. Thomas offers his services to help train community Neighborhood Watch program participants so they can take back their neighborhoods and be safe at the same time.
About 50 seniors from the Millwood-Waterford Citizens Association, Inc. enjoyed a demonstration from Dr. Thomas on Monday, March 12, at the Millwood Recreation Center during their March civic meeting. They learned several self-defense methods, including how to use a cane to ward off an attacker, and, through skits, were advised about how to avoid common scams regularly perpetrated on seniors. They were surprised to find out that they could learn ways to defend themselves on the street and in their homes and not become victims, and that they do not have to be vulnerable even if that is how they might be perceived, based on their ages and retirement status. Dr. Thomas said he would be pleased to return for a more interactive, in-depth seminar so that he could share more life-saving tips.
Dr. Thomas and Rambler student Susan McCutchen participated in the Third Annual Senior Citizens Honorary Graduation and Prom Ceremony that took place on Saturday, February 25, at Elizabeth Seton High School. The event was sponsored by the Seniors Against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group and Elizabeth Seton High School Scholars, a group of exceptional young women in both bearing and manner, under the direction of Sister Ellen Marie Hagar, the President of Elizabeth Seton High School. The graduation was noteworthy, and highlights were remarks from Maryland Senator Victor R. Ramirez, 47th Legislative District, Prince George's County, and from Bladensburg Mayor Walter James, as well as speeches from the valedictorian, Ms. Estelle Owens, and from Dr. Thomas, the salutatorian and the elected king of the prom. Ms. Deloris Jordan was the elected prom queen. Music was provided by the String Quartet of Elizabeth Seton High School and dancing by the Vintage Saints Dance Ministry, a group of older, very talented ladies who both entertained and inspired with two beautifully performed dances of praise and worship choreographed by Rosemary Thompson-Lewis. Both Dr. Thomas and Ms. McCutchen received certificates of achievement from the seniors support group, as well as Maryland Senatorial recognitions of achievement from Senator Ramirez. The texts of these certificates are found below.
Certificate of Achievement [both Dr. Thomas and Ms. McCutchen]
Seniors Against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group, Bladensburg, Maryland
[The awardee] is hereby awarded this Certificate of Achievement. Whereas education is the foundation of an informed society, your personal drive and commitment to broaden your horizons and expand your knowledge is most commendable, relevant and necessary in today's world. The choice to continue education is not easy and often places many additional stressful demands on one's life. Despite the demands and life's distractions, you choose to move forward and demonstrated focused personal resolve for completing your goals. Your personal commitment is not only a personal achievement, but one that serves as an inspiration to the entire community. You are a shining example. Therefore, the Seniors Against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group honor you for your courage, strength and passion for continuing your education.
(signed by) Sister Ellen Marie Hagar, President, Elizabeth Seton High School, and Barbra J. Newby Givens, Executive Director, Seniors Against Stalking and Domestic Violence.
The Senate of Maryland Recognition of Achievement [both Dr. Thomas and Ms. McCutchen]
Be it hereby known to all that sincerest congratulations are offered to [the awardee] in recognition of striving to improve yourself and expand your field of knowledge. Your drive to continuously challenge yourself is a source of inspiration to others. Presented on this 25th day of February 2012 by Senator Victor R. Ramirez of 47th Legislative District, Prince George's County.
The Senate of Maryland Official Citation to Dr. Thomas for being selected as the Prom King
Be it hereby known to all that sincerest congratulations are offered to Dr. Clifford Thomas in recognition of this honor granted to you by your peers. Your drive to continuously challenge yourself is a source of inspiration to others. Presented on this 25th day of February 2012 by Senator Victor R. Ramirez of 47th Legislative District, Prince George's County.
Thirty enthusiastic senior residents of Park View at Bladensburg apartments participated in Dr. Thomas' street smarts and self-defense demonstration event at their February 7 tenants' meeting. Scams and practical methods of self defense, such as using the cane as a weapon, were of particular interest to the group. Asked to come back to teach more in-depth classes and help the residents practice what he demonstrated, Dr. Thomas said he would be pleased to return.
On January 23, 2012, Dr. Thomas and Ms. McCutchen were presented certificates of appreciation from Barbara J. Newby Givens, founder and leader of the Bladensburg-based Seniors against Stalking Support Group, for outstanding service on behalf of stalking victims.
On Saturday, January 14, Dr. Thomas returned to the Union United Methodist Church to conduct a follow-up session to his September 2011 workshop/luncheon with seniors from the Adult Ministry. He demonstrated simple and effective self-defense methods that seniors might be able to use to defend themselves on the street, including with a cane, discussed a number of scams of many kinds perpetrated on seniors, and offered numerous safety tips. The seniors in attendance were appreciative of the demonstration and the information offered, and they indicated that they would like Dr. Thomas to return to share more life-saving tips.
In recognition of January 2012's National Stalking Awareness Month, the Bladensburg-based Seniors Against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group invited Dr. Thomas to give a demonstration of practical self-defense in an interactive, more in-depth seminar as a follow-on to October 2011's demonstration for National Domestic Violence Awareness month. To read more about National Stalking Awareness Month, proclaimed by President Barack Obama on December 28, 2011, access this link.
Dr. Thomas was interviewed during a live 4:30 p.m. news segment on Prince George's Community Television on Wednesday, January 4. He spoke about his upcoming interactive self-defense demonstration scheduled for Monday, January 9, at the Bladensburg Community Center. The event, sponsored by the Bladensburg-based Seniors against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group, which was founded and is led by Ms. Barbara Givens, the grandmother of a Rambler student, marks January 2012's National Stalking Awareness Month. To read more about National Stalking Awareness Month, proclaimed by President Barack Obama on December 28, 2011, access this link.
On Wednesday, January 4, Dr. Thomas gave a basic self-defense demonstration and discussed scams at the monthly meeting of the Prince George's County District III Coffee Circle held at Wegmans in the Woodmore Towne Centre in Largo, Maryland. This activity is a "public forum for ALL citizens, business owners, organizations, and public officials" who share helpful information at meetings that "focus on common concerns expressed by residents of District III." District III police officers and representatives attend these meetings to provide information, answer questions, and interact directly with the district's residents. Dr. Thomas looks forward to becoming further involved in District III community safety programs and to working with the district's officials to coordinate district activities across the county, including senior safety education and bullying prevention.
Dr. Thomas was invited to do a self-defense and safety demonstration at the annual St. Mary's County Department of Aging Health Fair ("The Way to Wellness") held at the Volunteer Fire Department Hall in Hollywood. He showed an enthusiastic group of seniors practical self-defense techniques and acted out scams that are being perpetrated on seniors on a regular basis. Other sessions included "Healthy Plate, Healthy Planet," Tai-Chi for Arthritis, Diabetes Management, Reflexology Demonstration, Department of Aging Road Show, Maintaining a Household on a Small Income, Coupons 101, and "My Plate, How Does it Rate?" The fair also included a variety of health screenings, flu shots were provided for seniors, and there were a number of information booths geared toward helping seniors live healthy and pleasant lives. Dr. Thomas looks forward to working with St. Mary's Department of Aging in future endeavors.
The Tenant Association of the Manor at Victoria invited Dr. Thomas for a return visit to follow up on his 2010 demonstration. He reviewed some of his practical self-defense techniques, including scams to look out for, and emphasized that physical and mental attacks are perpetrated by both friends and family members. The audience of over 40 seniors were very appreciative of Dr. Thomas' work and enthusiastically endorsed scheduling him to teach classes at the Manor so they can practice what they have seen and learn even more.
Over 80 seniors gathered at the People's Community Baptist Church for Dr. Thomas' self-defense demonstration. They were surprised at how simple movements could possibly save their lives should they be confronted by an attacker. Dr. Thomas' practical and straightforward methods to address both physical and psychological assaults, for example, through scams and even through abuse by friends and family members, and his commitment to enlightening seniors about their own capabilities greatly impressed the seniors. They invited him back to work even more closely with them through hands-on practice sessions.
In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Bladensburg-based Seniors Against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group invited experts in bullying, which can lead to stalking and domestic violence, to speak about these issues. Mr. Baron Howard, CEO of Entrepreneurs Success Business Network, gave a PowerPoint presentation that highlighted what constitutes bullying and possible ways to respond, and invited candid discussion. He emphasized that boys and girls and men and women who have been hurt in some manner (whether through what they have been taught or have observed, or from their own negative or unhappy experiences) often seek to hurt other people to achieve at least a short period of satisfaction from their ability to control another individual. After that presentation, Dr. Thomas gave an demonstration about practical ways to defend oneself against bullying and dangerous predators who seek to control those they feel are weak. He also spoke about and demonstrated common scams that constitute a different type of bullying approach. The support group enthusiastically invited Dr. Thomas to continue to work with them and support their efforts to empower seniors and help them feel safe and in control of their own lives. The text of the article is replicated below because the text exhibited in the archive link is run-on.
"Seniors gain skills, confidence to stand against bullying. To stand against abuse and bullying toward seniors and equip residents with confidence, a Bladensburg support group held a motivational and instructional event for seniors Oct. 10 at the Bladensburg Community Center. The Seniors Against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support group brought Washington, D.C.-based motivational speaker Baron Howard and martial arts instructor Clifford Thomas to speak to a group of local seniors about ways to protect themselves and encouraged them to stand up against those who abuse senior citizens. 'The event was great. We had two fantastic speakers,' said Barbara Givens, executive director of the group. 'We plan to do this again because both professionals were very good.' Thomas, a Bladensburg resident, speaks to schools and organizations about bullying problems and regularly teaches Tae Kwon Do classes at the Bladensburg Community Center. He said the bullying prevention event was a great success.' A lot of these seniors are locked up in their houses because they're afraid to come out,' he said. 'I think they gained sense of confidence. They learned from it. There was a lot of positive input.' Thomas said bullying against seniors has been a growing problem in today's society. He said the younger generation does not have the same respect toward seniors as they used to years ago. During the event, seniors were specifically taught how to best use their cane or walker as a defense weapon and how to best avoid an attack or abusive situation."
Dr. Thomas was invited by the Greenbelt Recreation Department's senior program Explorations Unlimited to give a seminar for the seniors on October 7, 2011. The video of this session is found on the City of Greenbelt's website on the Videos on Demand page at this link,
Seniors at Greater St. John Church asked Dr. Thomas to give a demonstration of simple self-defense methods, scams, and other tips that they can use to feel safer on the street and in their homes. His interactive presentation using audience participants and the information he provided was eye-opening for them. Dr. Thomas' goal is to help seniors become more aware of their surroundings and more confident that they have a choice in maintaining their own safety.
Dr. Thomas was invited back to Pleasant Homes Apartments Community Center by Councilmember Aretha Stephenson of Ward II to follow up on his July demonstration. Over 30 seniors, younger adults, and children attended the event, which began with an update on safety issues from the Seat Pleasant police department. In addition to seeking further training on practical self-defense methods from Dr. Thomas, the audience members indicated that they and others in the community are ready, willing, and able to do what they can to assist the police in their efforts to curb crimes and violence in Seat Pleasant. One of those efforts strongly supported is the reinstatement of a neighborhood watch program to help actively involve citizens themselves in making their community a safer place. They appreciate Dr. Thomas offering to work alongside the police to help train the neighborhood watch members and his desire to continue to be involved in efforts to improve the quality of life for Seat Pleasant residents.
The chair of the Adult Ministry of the historic Union United Methodist Church in Upper Marlboro asked Dr. Thomas to teach a workshop to educate the church's seniors about safety and self-defense. About 30 seniors attended the workshop and were surprised at the simplicity and effectiveness of the self-defense methods he showed them. The demonstration of and discussion about a few of many scams that are perpetrated on seniors on a regular basis prompted several members of the audience to share their own experiences and ask questions. Dr. Thomas appreciated being invited to speak with the members of the Adult Ministry in their beautiful church, and he enjoyed the fellowship during the potluck luncheon event. He indicated that he would be pleased to return to conduct a hands-on session that will allow them to practice and to better remember his self-defense methods and safety tips.
Dr. Thomas was invited again to Explorations Unlimited in Greenbelt, which is a series of informational seminars for seniors. His seminar was the first in a series of senior self-defense classes he will hold occasionally for the seniors at the Greenbelt Community Center. For the press coverage of his appearance, see page three, column two, at Greenbelt News Review, September 15, 2011.
Councilmember Aretha Stephenson of Seat Pleasant hosted a Ward II Crime Prevention and Self Defense Training meeting for seniors and their guests on July 28 at Pleasant Homes Apartments Community Center. Dr. Thomas and Sergeant Herbert Pettiford of the Seat Pleasant Police Department were featured. The residents of the apartments who attended were treated to a very entertaining session from Dr. Thomas that included the interactive demonstration of self-defense methods and the acting out and discussion of scams that happen every day to individuals of all ages who are perceived as being vulnerable. Councilmember Stephenson and Sergeant Pettiford spoke about the community's safety needs and highlighted the safety programs, both improved and new, that are available to the citizens of Seat Pleasant. They emphasized that individuals in the community need to take full advantage of what is offered and to learn to be both street and home smart as part of their safety efforts, underscoring what Dr. Thomas had shown and discussed in his presentation. The audience members described past efforts to create a neighborhood watch and voiced their desire to be proactive and jumpstart this important safety activity, which Councilmember Stephenson and Sergeant Pettiford indicated they would wholeheartedly support. For his part, Dr. Thomas offered to help train the neighborhood watch members and reiterated that individuals in a community must band together to improve their community and thereby their personal quality of life.
Dr. Thomas was asked by Maryland Triad/SALT to give a demonstration on practical self defense for seniors at the June 20 meeting of the Greater 202 Coalition, held at St. Margaret's of Scotland Catholic Church in Capitol Heights, Maryland. There were over 125 attendees, including a number of key public officials, including Maryland's Lieutenant Governor and the Prince George's County Executive, who made themselves available to hear citizens' concerns. One of the meeting's highlights was Dr. Thomas' performance and interactive demonstration. He showed a few everyday self-defense methods and common scams to the group. He underscored that seniors, who are often vulnerable to violent attacks and targeted scams, need to develop and employ "street smarts," both physically (for example, by using a cane or walker to effectively deter an attacker) and mentally (for example, recognizing unsafe situations at a grocery store or a gas station). He indicatd that he would be pleased to return to share more of his wealth of self-defense knowledge.
Featured at the College Park Community Center's Health and Safety Seminar, Dr. Thomas demonstrated practical self-defense methods and personal safety techniques, as well as scams that are being perpetrated on unsuspecting seniors. This community center event also provided seniors with exercise and line dancing activities; poker, spades, and scrabble; anti-theft and fire home safety tips; financial planning consultation; and vacation/travel planning; and brought in other professionals, including a podiatrist and a chiropractor. The event was well attended, and Dr. Thomas' hands-on demonstration with active audience participation was lively, entertaining, and, most importantly, informative, offering useful and potentially life-saving tips for seniors. He is looking forward to returning to the center for a more-in-depth, interactional "street smarts" seminar for the seniors.
Dr. Thomas was again pleased to give his fifth demonstration at this annual event to celebrate Older Americans Month and National Senior Health & Fitness Day at the Wayne K. Curry Sports & Learning Center. His demonstrations drew the attention of large numbers of seniors--seated, standing, and even peering over the rails from the balcony! His lively, interactive presentation of simple self-defense techniques both entertained the audiences and relayed the message that seniors should feel encouraged by their learning of "street smarts" techniques to enjoy their lives and not be afraid either at home or on the street as they go about their daily activities.
Explorations Unlimited is a series of informational seminars for seniors held on Fridays at the Greenbelt Community Center. Dr. Thomas was invited to share his knowledge about self defense with a group of about 20 seniors on January 21. They represented well the name of the series, as they paid close attention to his demonstration of simple self-defense techniques and scams. They explored myriad aspects of both physical and mental self defense with their probing questions during the discussion portion of the seminar. They asked Dr. Thomas to return with some of his students to conduct interactive training classes because they want to be able to use what they have learned to their best advantage should they encounter people who would wish them harm. An instructional video, entitled Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems presents Saving the Seniors, was produced and will be shown on local Greenbelt television, as well as made available in the Ask the Expert archive video section, the video entitled Saving the Seniors. For the press coverage of his appearance, see page three, column four, at Greenbelt News Review, January 13, 2011.
Dr. Thomas gave a safety and self-defense demonstration for about 20 seniors during their monthly meeting at the Hillcrest Baptist Church. The audience members were delighted to be able to participate in this highly interactive session where they learned several simple self-defense methods. They indicated they would be pleased to have him come back and continue to educate them on ways to protect themselves, both physically and mentally, from those who might seek to take advantage of them.
Dr. Thomas was pleased to have been invited to speak to members of the Maryland Triad/SALT Network on December 14. He first demonstrated several simple self-defense methods he teaches seniors. Afterward, he discussed with the several representatives from different counties in Maryland his views on the importance of reaching out to seniors in many ways, with his focus on their physical/psychological and fiscal safety (e.g., scams). Dr. Thomas offered his services as part of the activities of this important organization, a cooperative effort involving proactive seniors and law enforcement representatives.
On Wednesday, October 20, Dr. Thomas gave a safety demonstration to a gathering organized by the Tenant Association of The Manor at Victoria. About 30 residents attended and were treated to a lively interactive demonstration that underscored the more serious message that seniors are vulnerable to those who would prey on them because they sense that seniors are weak and helpless. Dr. Thomas demonstrated a few practical self-defense methods that he encourages seniors to learn and practice so that they might be able to escape from a predator and seek assistance. He indicated he would be pleased to return to provide a more in-depth seminar, an offer that was heartily endorsed by the appreciative audience.
On Friday, September 17, the Prince George's County Department of Family Services Administration on Aging hosted the annual senior picnic at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro. Free to seniors over 60, hundreds who had pre-registered enjoyed the well-organized and seamlessly-run four-hour picnic. Kudos to the organizers whose planning and facilitation of the event were remarkable. Snack bags and lunches with healthy food choices, carnival fare (including popcorn and cotton candy), and beverages were provided. The lively music and other entertainment, with clowns making balloon animals, carnival games, and face painting gave the event a circus atmosphere that offered something for everyone. The beautiful location, pleasant end-of-summer weather, and company of so many interesting and active seniors were stirred into the mix to make it a thoroughly enjoyable day. Triad/SALT, who had an information table at the picnic, asked Dr. Thomas to join the festivities and talk about his longstanding Saving the Seniors program. An audience of about 100 seniors gathered for his eye-opening, interractional demonstration of simple techniques they realistically could use to thwart an attacker. They also learned about scams that many of them had not realized are being perpetrated daily on unsuspecting and trusting seniors. Dr. Thomas looks forward to participating in the next senior picnic and other such events to enable him to talk with seniors about their safety and show them that they do not have to let themselves be victims.
Following his April demonstration, Dr. Thomas was invited by the organizers of Triad (meaning "three," in this context three groups, or senior citizens, police, and sheriffs) of Prince George's County/Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (SALT) to support their countywide acknowledgement of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which took place on June 15. At both Iverson Mall in Hillcrest Heights and Prince George's Plaza in Hyattsville, Maryland, he demonstrated some simple methods seniors can use to defend themselves, using wrist techniques and a cane ("cane do"), and to educate them about scams that are perpetrated daily on seniors. Audience members, including police, were again eager to volunteer and try what was being demonstrated, as well as to ask questions about safety. Dr. Thomas looks forward to continuing to work with Triad/SALT and with AARP through his longstanding Saving the Seniors program.
On May 26, Dr. Thomas gave a demonstration for the fourth time at the Annual Senior Health & Fitness Day at the Wayne K. Curry Sports & Learning Center. Back for another year, his visit was highly anticipated. Seniors gathered to see the simple self-defense techniques he shows as he engages the audience in the action. His entertaining presentation belies a very serious approach to the need for seniors to learn that they do not have to be afraid to participate fully in life as they get older, a time when they should be enjoying what they have worked so hard for during their lives.
On April 21, Dr. Thomas shocked and amazed a large group of seniors and law enforcement personnel by demonstrating simple methods seniors can use to defend themselves, using wrist techniques, a cane ("cane do"), and moves from a wheelchair. He also talked about scams. Audience members, including police, were eager to participate, and they were able to see and try firsthand a sampling of Dr. Thomas' skills and to ask questions about safety. Triad (meaning "three," in this context three groups, or senior citizens, police, and sheriffs) of Prince George's County/Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (SALT) is an organized effort by law enforcement agencies to work with senior citizens to keep them safe. It was formed in 1988 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs' Association, and AARP to work together to reduce crime, victimization, and unwarranted fear of crime affecting the elderly. Triad provides opportunities for the exchange of information between law enforcement and senior citizens by bringing representatives from various government agencies and senior citizens together to discuss concerns that affect the safety of our elders. Dr. Thomas was pleased both to bring some of his vast knowledge about personal safety to the effort and to learn from law enforcement safety experts. He looks forward to working with Triad/SALT and continuing his work with AARP through his longstanding Saving the Seniors program.
Seniors at Emerson House Apartments eagerly awaited the return of Dr. Clifford Thomas' senior self-defense seminar. The group of seniors who attended, including those who use canes and walkers, were active participants in the seminar and appreciated learning about practical physical and mental self-defense methods that could potentially save their lives. They shared stories about threatening situations they had experienced and sought advice from Dr. Thomas about their responses to these situations. He encouraged them to practice so that their defensive reactions become automatic and discussed the potential for holding regular classes for seniors in Bladensburg.
Dr. Clifford Thomas returned to Harmony Hall Regional Center to conduct a seminar for seniors to follow up on his November 2008 demonstration of practical physical and mental self-defense methods that could potentially save their lives. The appreciative gathering enjoyed participating in the seminar and had many questions for Dr. Thomas as they shared some of their experiences in situations in which they felt threatened or were accosted. By bringing his methods to the seniors, he hopes to give them confidence and empower them so that they will be able to better enjoy their lives.
Dr. Clifford Thomas participated for a third year in the annual Senior Health and Fitness Fair, which was held Wednesday, May 27, at the Wayne K. Curry Sports & Learning Center. In addition to his two safety and self-defense demonstrations, this year's event offered tai chi, chair exercise, several dance activities, classroom activities, and booths with information focused on concerns of seniors. Dr. Thomas both entertained and educated the seniors about simple techniques they might be able to use to defend themselves. Through his Saving the Seniors program, he emphasizes methods that can be used on the street and at home, and he demonstrates how the development of both mental and physical street smarts are vital for basic survival in a climate of crime and violence.
On April 6, Dr. Thomas demonstrated and spoke about practical self-defense methods to over 30 members of the Emery Senior Recreation Association. He showed them several simple, effective techniques they might use to physically and mentally protect themselves, including how to use a cane for self defense and how to avoid being caught up in scams regularly experienced by seniors. He pointed out that seniors may feel so vulnerable that they avoid engaging in activities outside the home and find themselves unable to fully enjoy their lives, and he emphasized that his mission is to help them feel more confident.
Back by popular demand, Dr. Thomas gave a demonstration to over 50 seniors at Camp Springs Senior Center on March 6. He showed them ways to both physically and mentally protect themselves by using simple and effective techniques. He expressed his heartfelt desire to encourage seniors to enjoy their lives and not live in fear by providing them with useful skills to defend themselves rather than become victims. He was enthusiastically invited back again to hold an interactive seminar, and several of the seniors expressed an interest in signing up for his adult classes held on Saturdays at the Bladensburg Community Center.
A group of energetic seniors gathered at Harmony Hall Regional Center's Save the Seniors Summit to enjoy and learn from a demonstration of practical self-defense methods given by special guest Dr. Clifford Thomas. He showed them ways to both physically and mentally protect themselves. Many were surprised that his methods are so simple, are very easy for anyone to learn and apply, and can be so effective in the face of intimidating circumstances. The Harmony Hallers invited Dr. Thomas to return for a hands-on seminar in which they can practice what they saw and learn even more.
Dr. Clifford Thomas gave a demonstration of practical self-defense methods to a group of seniors who were amazed to find there are relatively simple ways to both physically and mentally protect themselves. They appreciated the fact that he has such a keen interest in supporting seniors by showing them how to feel more confident and better enjoy their lives by not allowing themselves to become victims. They invited Dr. Thomas to return for an interactive, hands-on training seminar.
About 40 AARP members welcomed a practical self-defense demonstration from Dr. Clifford Thomas at their regular meeting at Peoples Congregational Church in Washington, DC. The seniors were surprised and encouraged to see, albeit briefly, that there are relatively simple ways they might defend themselves both physically and mentally and not allow themselves to become victims. They were anxious to have Dr. Thomas return with a more in-depth seminar to teach them more.
Dr. Clifford Thomas spoke to about 80 AARP members gathered for a general meeting at the Northminster Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. The seniors learned a great deal from Dr. Thomas' short demonstration of a few of the many practical self-defense methods they could use to defend themselves both physically and mentally, and they had many questions for him after the demonstration. It was clear that his full program, Saving the Seniors, would raise their awareness further and promote the confidence that seniors do not have to allow themselves to become victims.
Dr. Clifford Thomas held a three-hour seminar for members of the Penn Branch Chapter on Monday, June 16, as a follow-up activity from a preliminary demonstration he made to this AARP chapter in March 2008. Members took advantage of this excellent opportunity to engage in an interactive and in-depth discussion and hands-on learning session about self-defense, which includes a combination of mental and physical processes. Dr. Thomas stressed that individuals need to become more aware of their surroundings and better assess the potentially dangerous situations in which they find themselves. He underscored the fact that there are many levels of threats to safety, including physical assault, scams, intimidation, and so forth, perpetrated on those who are viewed as likely unable to defend themselves.
For a second year, Dr. Clifford Thomas participated in the annual Senior Health and Fitness Fair, which was held Wednesday, May 21, at the Wayne K. Curry Sports & Learning Center. This year's event was full of activities, important information,and giveaways for the seniors. Dr. Thomas dazzled the crowds at his two exciting hands-on sessions. Ever the showman, he was able to impart some of his vast knowledge of potentially life-saving techniques, while engaging and entertaining the large number of seniors gathered. Through his Saving the Seniors program, Dr. Thomas emphasizes simple methods of self defense that can be used on the street and at home, and how the development of both mental and physical street smarts are vital for basic survival in the face of ever increasing crime and violence.
Dr. Clifford Thomas was featured in the afternoon at the Save the Seniors Summit on Tuesday, May 13, an event he has championed to bring attention to seniors and their concerns. In the morning, after an energizing chair exercise routine by Reggie to get the blood pumping, John Moss, Bladensburg's chief of police, spoke with the over 100 seniors who attended about practical crime prevention methods; Dr. Ruth King, who teaches tai chi classes at Bladensburg Community Center, did a demonstration with some of her students; Ted Myerson, AARP, spoke about the need for seniors to be involved in healthcare legislation and other important issues so their voices will be heard; Kay Pierson discussed financial planning; and Renee Boykins, fitness specialist at the community center, worked with seniors and encouraged them to stay fit by exercising. Americare was also represented and health screenings were offered. After a fantastic lunch provided for the seniors that left everyone satisfied, the day was capped off by Dr. Thomas' showstopping senior self-defense and crime prevention seminar. He used the center's own strongman, Rodney Griffin, one of his adult students, as a "stunt man," as well as Susan McCutchen, another of his students, to demonstrate self-defense methods and scams perpetrated on seniors. Most important, though, were the seniors themselves who actively participated in Dr. Thomas' hands-on demonstration. This outstanding event was well attended, well organized, and ran smoothly thanks to Bladensburg Community Center's (in alphabetical order) Steve Ellis, program specialist; Lora Fitzgerald, front desk manager; Lori Smith, center director; and Barbara Spencer-Pulliam, senior coordinator, as well as others behind the scenes who set up for the event and assisted the seniors during the event. We look forward to another such rousing gathering to stress that seniors need to become involved in available activities at both senior and community centers to enhance their lives and feel more free to move about out in the community.
Dr. Clifford Thomas spoke to over 100 AARP members gathered for their monthly meeting at the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in Washington, DC. The seniors were so impressed with Dr. Thomas' short demonstration of the various practical self-defense methods they could use to defend themselves and his description of his full program for seniors that he was invited to give a two-hour seminar in June 2008 so they will have an opportunity to engage in an interactive, hands-on learning session.
Dr. Thomas gave a demonstration at Camp Springs Senior Center on September 7. He showed ways seniors could use simple techniques to defend themselves should they find themselves in situations where someone is trying to take advantage of them either by physically attacking them or mentally by the use of scams.
Dr. Clifford Thomas wowed a large gathering of spectators at the Senior Health and Fitness Fair on Wednesday, May 23, at the Wayne K. Curry Sports & Learning Center, with an entertaining demonstration of what he brings to seniors in his Saving the Seniors program. He showed them a sampling of a few simple methods of self defense they can use on the street and in their homes, emphasizing the importance of both physical and mental street smarts that could prove to be vital for their basic survival in times when blatant acts of crime and violence seem to be on the increase. The fascinated seniors eagerly participated in this interactive demonstration and wanted to learn more, asking when and where they could sign up for classes.
On May 22, 2007, Dr. Clifford Thomas held a preliminary safety class at the Coffield Community Center, the first of a series of classes currently in the planning stages. Coffield has a flourishing senior program, and the actively involved seniors who attended this safety session are motivated to learn all they can to potentially save their lives should they be faced with life-threatening situations. They look forward to starting up classes in the near future, as does Dr. Thomas.
At this town hall meeting held at Holiday Park Senior Center, Dr. Clifford Thomas had the opportunity to speak with and offer the services of his Saving the Seniors program to a group of more than 200 seniors and government officials, including County Executive Isiah Leggett. One of several convened by Mr. Leggett, this community meeting gave seniors an opportunity to raise issues and concerns of special interest, one of which is public safety.
Dr. Clifford Thomas brought his safety program to an appreciative group of seniors on Friday, March 9, at a "street smarts" demonstration for Tower Senior Association, Inc. While the seniors were greatly entertained by Dr. Thomas' enthusiasm and engaging style, they became aware through the course of the demonstration that the uncomplicated self-defense moves they were being taught could potentially save their lives should they be faced with life-threatening situations. Leaving the crowd clamoring for more, Dr. Thomas told them that he looks forward to being invited back to conduct an ongoing program.
For Dr. Clifford Thomas, martial arts teaches not just self defense, but a way of life. Thomas, 52, has studied both judo and tae kwon do since an early age, garnering awards, recognition and even black belt status. But his greatest honor, he says, stems from working with others -- from schoolchildren to seniors -- to show them how martial arts can improve their lives.
Dr. Clifford Thomas gave an exciting senior safety demonstration at Collington Life Care Community on Friday, September 29, as part of the featured activities for the community's 2006 Active Aging Week. His "Senior Safety Demonstration: Be Smart on the Streets and in Your Home" was a sample of what he offers in his Saving the Seniors: Street Smarts program, which is designed to teach practical self-defense methods and safety tips to seniors that they can use to protect themselves both on the street and in their homes. Dr. Thomas demonstrated to the community residents that while they often become targets of violence and crime, they should not mistake growing older with helplessness.
Bladensburg's Emerson House senior residents had a demonstration from Dr. Clifford Thomas as part of Bladensburg Mayor Walter James' monthly breakfast. The breakfast was also attended by Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, Del. Victor Ramirez (D-Dist.47), and Jolene Ivy, candidate for one of the four District-47 delegate seats. Dr. Thomas spoke to the seniors about his ‘‘Saving the Seniors” street smarts program and demonstrated how seniors could use items they regularly keep on them, such as a cane or walker, to better protect themselves while out in the community. ‘‘Another way to keep our neighborhood safe is for you to be able to care of yourselves,” Thomas said. ‘‘I want to bring my talents to you.” Mayor James commended Dr. Thomas for his work with the seniors, citing the program as another example of the town’s proactive approach to improving the community.
A Domestic Violence Prayer Symposium was held at Elizabeth Seton High School on Saturday, October 5, to mark October's designation as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It was hosted by the GATCCS Seniors against Domestic Violence Support Group. The theme of the symposium was "Moving Forward--Not Turning Back." The speakers were eloquent in their comments (many elicited from wrenching personal experiences) about the practical and spiritual aspects of domestic violence and how these go hand-in-hand because prayers must be accompanied by action to be effective. As part of the program, Dr. Thomas and Ms. McCutchen provided several domestic violence prevention and self-defense tips and acted out domestic violence scenarios. In addition to Deacon Barbara Givens--the founder and head of GATCCS and the grandparent of a young Rambler student--other guests included Brother Khayan Lewis, Pastor Milton Johnson, D'ara Sweeney, Minister Ruthena Dorsey, Brother John Lewis, III, and Dr. Yulanda Swindell, a pediatrician who is also one of Dr. Thomas' adult students. The audience (about 70 people) appreciated the "prayer, praise, and education" they received about the complicated issues associated with domestic violence at this innovative symposium and the opportunity to discuss very serious but often hidden issues faced by people every day, regardless of race, gender, or religious beliefs. The Rambler organization is pleased to partner with Seniors against Domestic Violence and to have been invited to participate in this remarkable event.
Dr. Thomas was interviewed during a live 4:30 p.m. news segment on Prince George's Community Television on Wednesday, January 4. He spoke about his upcoming interactive self-defense demonstration scheduled for Monday, January 9, at the Bladensburg Community Center. The event, sponsored by the Bladensburg-based Seniors against Stalking and Domestic Violence Support Group, which was founded and is led by Ms. Barbara Givens, the grandmother of a Rambler student, marks January 2012's National Stalking Awareness Month.
Further Information: To read more about National Stalking Awareness Month, proclaimed by President Barack Obama on December 28, 2011, access this link.
On Monday, June 8, Dr. Clifford Thomas (We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems) held Senior Safety and Self-Defense Workshop at Bladensburg Community Center. We become more vulnerable as we grow older and often face increasing difficulties relative to our age and decreasing physical abilities. Dr. Thomas is a world-renown safety and self-defense expert who takes these factors into account and works extensively with seniors to teach them street smarts so they will become more confident and feel more comfortable in their daily interactions and activities. With audience participation, he showed several simple self-defense techniques--how to escape from a chokehold, defend yourself from a knife being held at your throat, break free from someone who grabs your wrists, and use a cane to defend yourself--as well as performed skits with one of his adult students and an audience member about abduction and scam/theft situations, for example, in the parking lot at a grocery store or at a gas station. The Bladensburg (POFC David Calloway, Officer Garcia, and Ms. Dana Duncan) and District II (Officer Krystal Culbreth) police representatives briefly described the services they provide for seniors and distributed safety and crime-reporting materials. Participants left wanting to learn more about how they can empower themselves so they will feel more safe as they go about their very active lives.
Online and Print Newspaper Coverage: The June 12 Andrews Gazette first-published article is featured online in All About Martial Arts news at this link and on page 5 of the Andrews Gazette print edition at this link . A pdf document can be downloaded here. Story and photos are by photojournalist Bobby Jones.
Councilwoman Aretha Stephenson convenes monthly meetings at the Seat Pleasant Community Center to keep in touch with and motivate Seat Pleasant residents to become involved and to work together to make improvements in their community. She invited Dr. Thomas to come to the Thursday, May 23, meeting to give a practical self-defense demonstration, talk about street smarts, and discuss important safety issues that affect both apartment and single-family unit dwellers in Seat Pleasant. It was a lively and productive session, and Dr. Thomas appreciated the opportunity to share a meaningful dialogue about safety concerns with the community members who attended.
Dr. Thomas provided a self-defense training seminar for the Celebrating Moms Expo! conference on Sunday, May 5, that rocked the house. Hundreds of women attended the expo that was convened to celebrate and thank Mom for her unconditional love and support. Fabulous exhibitors showed and sold their products and others provided helpful information geared toward women. In addition to Dr. Thomas' session, other free seminars highlighted the event and included Total Woman Wellness; Moms Rock! Fashion Show; Simply Shirley Comedy Show; Belly Dancing with Marie James of Soul Redemption; and other speakers, including a fireman who lost three sisters to breast cancer and has organized his own fight against the disease by creating an organization to help breast cancer patients and their families in all aspects of dealing with the disease and its effects. Attendees of all ages actively participated in the self-defense demonstration and took part in the discussion. Entertained and enlightened, they left the session more keenly aware of the importance of women being able to protect themselves from harm in simple, yet effective, ways. Dr. Thomas appreciated being asked to be a part of this important event, which is helping the House of Ruth Maryland through donating a portion of the proceeds. For additional information on the House of Ruth Maryland, access this link.
On Saturday, April 13, Dr. Thomas and his black-belt instructor, Ms. Whitney Brogsdale, spoke about safety awareness and demonstrated simple self-defense methods at the Kelsey Temple Church of God in Christ Y.W.E. Workshop. Ms. Brogsdale also showed her skills by doing two impressive martial arts forms. This workshop was designed to teach young women the importance of developing self esteem--the acceptance, respect, confidence and satisfaction that one has in oneself as a person, based on an internal image of oneself that is both conscious and subconscious--through positive self images and awareness. Becoming street smart and knowing how to protect oneself are part of the toolset in the development of confidence.
Dr. Thomas thanks the Rambler students who came out to represent at the Beltway Plaza Mall's Fashion Bug store in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Friday, July 13. The students' excellent performance drew the attention of shoppers in the mall, and a number of people, including families with their children, stopped in their tracks to watch it. They were quite impressed by the Rambler student skills. It will not be at all surprising to see several new students sign up for the new 8-week session or attend the August 2012 Rambler bullying prevention summer camp. The shoppers who went into the Fashion Bug to take advantage of Girls Night Out sales included some of the Rambler parents and students. The chance to do a little bit of shopping topped off the evening and helped make the event a big success all around!
Several Rambler students gave a martial arts and self-defense demonstration for the Port Towns Elementary School's College, Career, and Resource Night for Students and Parents on Thursday, May 31. Seeing the martial arts skills of the Rambler students was a treat for the audience of about 40 children and parents. But Dr. Thomas's interactive demonstration of how easy it is for an unauthorized person to abduct a child as he or she is leaving school came as a surprise for the group. This underscores the need for parents and responsible adults to be informed and for the children to be taught and practice how to defend themselves in a variety of situations.
Councilmember Aretha Stephenson of Seat Pleasant hosted a crime prevention meeting at Seat Pleasant City Hall on May 23. Dr. Thomas was featured and spoke about crime and other safety concerns in the community. With assistance from three young people attending with their parents and grandparents, he did skits about bullying on the bus and about gang- and other harassment-related activities in school to show what transpires in these potentially dangerous situations and made viable suggestions about how a young person could avoid or otherwise deal with these unfortunate occurrences. This was a sample of the kind of program he plans to bring into the Prince George's County school system, particularly elementary schools in the near future.
Back by popular demand, Dr. Thomas gave a basic self-defense demonstration at the District III Coffee Circle on Wednesday, May 2, a meeting held monthly at Wegman's in the Woodmore Towne Centre in Largo, Maryland. The featured guest at the event was Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, who found the exciting demonstration a tough act to follow. Dr. Thomas attends the coffee circle meetings on a regular basis, as well as the meetings of other grassroots organizations that are actively pursuing programs designed to improve the lives of the citizens of their communities, Prince George's County, and the State of Maryland, and whose members believe as he does that people must work together for the benefit of everyone concerned.
On Wednesday, January 4, Dr. Thomas gave a basic self-defense demonstration and discussed scams at the monthly meeting of the Prince George's County District III Coffee Circle held at Wegman's in the Woodmore Towne Centre in Largo, Maryland. This activity is a "public forum for ALL citizens, business owners, organizations, and public officials" who share helpful information at meetings that "focus on common concerns expressed by residents of District III." District III police officers and representatives attend these meetings to provide information, answer questions, and interact directly with the district's residents. Dr. Thomas looks forward to becoming further involved in District III community safety programs and to working with the district's officials to coordinate district activities across the county, including senior safety education and bullying prevention.
Dr. Thomas held a youth workshop on street smarts and practical self-defense for a group comprised mostly of young women who play basketball at the Bladensburg Community Center on Saturday, August 7. The participants were surprised at what they did not know when it comes to defending themselves both on the street and on the court. For example, a simple technique of rolling to gain ground when running away from an attacker could save their lives, or being able to roll and not get hurt could save them from injuries they might suffer from a fall on the court. Or, on the street or in other locations, such as in school, being able to effectively fight off an attacker from a position on the ground. To demonstrate another useful method of self-defense, Dr. Thomas showed how a cane can be used very effectively to deter or fight off an attacker.
Dr. Thomas gave two focused seminars on street smarts to parents and children and to girls and women at the Bladensburg Community Center on Saturday, September 26. The participants in the interactive seminars learned valuable tips that may be useful should they be accosted by someone who wishes to harm or steal from them. They also learned a few of the many self-defense techniques he teaches in his classes, which he encourages both children and adults to attend on a regular basis to learn much more. Dr. Thomas emphasized that any technique must be practiced to the point that it becomes an automatic reaction to an adverse circumstance. He looks forward to giving more such seminars in the future.
On Saturday, March 22, Dr. Thomas gave an exhilarating demonstration for the Theta Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. With the able assistance of two of his adult students, Greg Clement and Thalia Simpson-Clement, he astounded the audience with hands-on examples of simple self-defense methods that can be used by ordinary people. Afterward, he was awarded a handsomely framed "Certificate of Special Recognition, Community Service Award presented to Clifford Thomas PhD by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Theta Omega Omega Chapter." Dr. Thomas very much appreciated receiving this recognition and will continue to work with the sorority to develop seminars in his efforts to make our community a better place in which to live.
At the invitation of Girls Inc. of Washington, D.C., Dr. Clifford Thomas gave a demonstration on practical self-defense to a group of female students at Garnet-Patterson Middle School. Noting some of the key concerns of the young ladies assembled, he focused at this preliminary session on methods they can use to prevent being harassed or sexually assaulted. While they found the demonstration entertaining, the young ladies also realized that the intent was to underscore that they should be treated respectfully and feel safe in their environment. Further, they learned that they themselves can be proactive in avoiding situations in which they are approached aggressively. Dr. Thomas was invited to return to give safety seminars at the school after this successful demonstration. Nadirah I. Moreland, Girls Inc. program director, who plans to work with Dr. Thomas in future programming as one of the organization's partners, thanked him for giving this demonstration: "Your flexibility, planning time, and intuitive strength with youth brought a wonderful and important time for the girls to learn critical skills in a warm and engaging setting. ... The girls certainly reflected how valuable the time with you was and they continued to practice the skills you demonstrated including breaking the grip."
Dr. Clifford Thomas gave the keynote speech at the Honors Assembly at Princeton Elementary School in Suitland, Maryland, on Friday, November 10. He was honored to be invited to speak on this occasion as it gave him the opportunity to talk to a group of young people in the community who could benefit from his experience. The third through sixth graders, their parents, and the school's supervisory and teaching staff listened intently as he spoke about the need for students to lead by example, be responsible, honor their parents, and do their best in school and at home, which are the basic tenets of the Tae Kwon Do Ramblers.
After his entertaining and inspirational address, Dr. Thomas demonstrated the effectiveness of practical self-defense moves, the simplicity of which came as a surprise to most of the audience. The children were delighted with the demonstration and motivated to learn more, and parents and school staff were particularly interested because of their concerns about the children's safety in school and on the street. The school's principal, Ms. Cynthia Rodgers, presented Dr. Thomas with a beautiful crystal award, a thoughtful and gracious gesture. Since his November 10 speech, Dr. Thomas has returned twice to give seminars for the children, the first time for second, third, and fourth graders, and the second time for fifth and sixth graders.
CTV taped an interview with Dr. Thomas at Bladensburg Community Center that aired on CTV News on June 1. He spoke briefly about his upcoming Senior Safety and Self-Defense Workshop to be held at Bladensburg Community Center on June 8, and demonstrated with his assistant a few simple self-defense moves using a cane, as well as a way to escape from a chokehold.
CTV taped an interview with Dr. Thomas at Bladensburg Community Center that aired on CTV News on September 27. He spoke briefly about bullying prevention and child sexual abuse prevention and the second annual Walk and Rally for October's National Bullying Prevention Month being held by We Lead By Example, Inc., at Bladensburg Community Center on October 1.
Dr. Thomas was interviewed live on CTV News on September 14. He spoke about bullying prevention and child sexual abuse prevention and promoted the third annual Walk and Rally for October's National Bullying Prevention Month being held by We Lead By Example, Inc., at Bladensburg Community Center on October 7. He expressed his concern that not enough is being done in the schools to train children how to deal with bullies and refuse the advances of predators, citing the increasingly rampant uptick of these dangerous behaviors in recent years. See the interview at this link.
Dr. Thomas and Ms. McCutchen provided a continuing education unit course (CEU) in safety and self-defense at the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association's annual training conference. This year's conference, "Navigating the Future," was held in Ocean City, Maryland. One of many educational sessions scheduled, Dr. Thomas' was packed with recreation students and other association members. From the feedback received, the attendees gained useful information about safety and self-defense, received CEU credit, and were entertained. Not a bad day!
Dr. Thomas was invited to reprise his safety and self-defense demonstration for the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers during a special lunch session on Friday, February 7. (He previously was a guest at one of the association's recent health fairs.) On this occasion, employees benefitted both from hearing safety tips from Dr. Thomas and from their audience participation in a demonstration of basic self-defense moves. Dr. Thomas looks forward to the opportunity to return with more in-depth training for the association's employees.
Dr. Thomas was a guest speaker at a Scott Management, Inc., employee training session held at Oakcrest Towers Apartments on Tuesday, April 16. He presented scenarios related to employee safety in the workplace, for example, how to handle disgruntled tenants and how to protect themselves if they are physically or verbally assaulted or abused. He showed a few simple self-defense moves and spoke about at what point such actions would be considered excessive. The audience consisted of employees who work in all aspects of managing the day-to-day activities in apartment settings. Many of the employees shared some of their experiences that demonstrate the complexities of dealing with tenants and other members of the public and some of the difficulties they encounter in these varied and sometimes intense and possibly negative interactions. It was stressed by the employees and management alike that every attempt must be made to be respectful and remain calm should untenable situations occur; however, as Dr. Thomas pointed out, individuals need to be able to protect themselves from being harmed, make their escape, and contact the proper authorities should untoward situations develop despite their best efforts.
On Wednesday, October 12, Dr. Thomas gave two self-defense and safety demonstrations to IAMAW employees who attended their company's annual health fair. He showed those who attended the seminars how they might be able to defend themselves in the event of a physical attack and alerted them to other kinds of scams being perpetrated on the unsuspecting. The employees indicated that they would be interested in having him conduct classes on a regular basis at their facility.
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.
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!
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.
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