Greater Peoria Metro Area, IL

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Building Self-Esteem Through Self-Defense


By Craig W. Armstrong

Growing up can be tough, and most young people could use a boost when it comes to self-esteem. There are many ways to improve self-esteem, and one is through learning the martial arts. In June, young people participating in Goodwill’s GoodGuides® Youth Mentoring program learned that the martial arts can teach you more than just kicking and blocking.

Seminars were held in both Peoria and Pekin, under the instructor of Mark Hutchins. Hutchins, owner of Healthy Cells Magazine, Greater Peoria Edition holds a Second-Degree Black Belt in Karate and has instructed hundreds of youth throughout Central Illinois. The Christian Center and Salvation Army are a few of the local organizations who have benefited from his seminars. While Hutchins’ class teaches self-defense, it also teaches awareness and assertiveness. These concepts, coupled with the physicality of the karate, build self-esteem in the young participants.

Events that build self-esteem and address issues related to adolescence are part of the GoodGuides program. Begun in 2010, the youth mentoring program matches young people between the ages of 12 and 17 with a trusted mentor. The relationships provide youth with support and guidance in education, career planning, and all the things that make growing up a challenge. Many times these young people just need someone to talk to, someone to listen, and someone to just be there.

Along with the GoodGuides program, Goodwill also offers other youth programs. Young people can take advantage of activities and workshops focused on career exploration and preparation. “All of the services that we provide are here to support these young people as they deal with the challenges that we all faced,” said Samantha Kinsey, GoodGuides Program Manager. “We want them to focus on their futures, and we strive to supply them with resources and support, while having fun.”

GoodGuides is a free service, as are all of the services that Goodwill provides. Along with youth services, Goodwill also offers employment services, veterans’ services, forklift operation certification, plus it operates a 15-bed veterans’ home. Goodwill has three employment services centers located in Peoria, Pekin, and Galesburg. Goodwill is able to offer these services free of charge, because of the generous donations made by the people of Central Illinois. The revenue earned by selling donated items in Goodwill’s stores is what funds these programs.

For more information about GoodGuides® or any of Goodwill’s free service log onto, or call 309-682-1113.

Photos courtesty of goodwill.