To a passer-by, it may have looked like those in the Impact Zone on March 16 were engaged in loving hugs.
The impression couldn’t be farther from the truth.
They were actually learning self-defence moves at a session designed specifically for women in a fun and supportive environment.
The workshop is held once a semester and provides female students a free opportunity on campus to develop basic self-defence tactics.
“The main goal is to survive,” said instructor Terry Rea. “You aren’t trying to win the battle, you’re just trying to get away.”
The session drew only 12 participants, a significant drop from the 30 that attended the fall event.
“The students seem busier this semester, whereas last semester it was full,” said organizer Susan Pridmore, the events and volunteer assistant at the AC Hub. “We do try to run it during midterms. It provides stress relief and useful skills.”
The group was made up of both veterans and first-timers. They split into pairs and varied between brief periods of instruction and the opportunity to practice one-on-one.
“I’ve always wanted to take a class,” said first-year early childhood education student Kyla Sutherland-Deveen. “I’m coming in with an open mind.”
“I took one in Grade 10 and enjoyed it,” added Cheyenne Jacobs, another student in the program. “I’ve wanted to do one again.”
This was the first time that the instructor was a male, as the usual instructor, Sandra Lanois-Bazinet, was unavailable. However, there didn’t seem to be any negative reactions from the participants.
The workshop is funded by a grant provided specifically for women’s safety, which Pridmore explains is why there is only a women’s-only class and not one geared specifically for men.
“It’s a space for women to come and learn these skills, build confidence and feel secure,” said Pridmore. She added that they would like to add similar programming for men.
Rea said that there have also been ongoing efforts to get a regular self-defence class going so that participants can build on the basic techniques they learn.
“These events, it’s really about student engagement,” said Pridmore. “Anytime you can get a group of students in one space, and they share that commonality, it’s a positive.”
The participants appreciated the efforts of the organizers in providing the event.
“I’m really happy they did it,” said Sutherland-Deveen. “It’s convenient that it’s right here and it’s free. Otherwise I probably just wouldn’t have done one.”