Naomi Even-Aberle teaches martial arts in Rapid City, South Dakota.

An Update from Trailblazer Naomi Even-Aberle

A breath of fresh air; a new path.

This update comes like a breath of fresh air. Clean, crisp and full of possibilities and energy. I have been training in the martial arts for 10 years, and in those 10 years, there have been times when I felt defeated, down and just done. It is not easy to continue to pour your heart and soul out, especially when it feels like no one is catching it.

Now is not one of those times. Now is a time for celebration, hard work and a bit of luck. Since being selected as an OTA winner, my drive and passion in the martial arts has been reignited and supported by community members.

My new path was jump-started by our OTA Conversation luncheon. Several community members joined me to share a meal of friendship and connections. It was the fist time I stepped outside of the gym setting and reached out to other community leaders regarding potential partnerships. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I was blown away by the ideas and connections that began to grow. The atmosphere was bustling with authentic support for the martial arts as being a trailblazer in community development.

Needless to say, I left the luncheon feeling energized and ready to take on the world. But where to start? So many new ideas, connections and partnerships were running through my mind. One of the community members at the luncheon reminded me that the martial arts is really a way of life, and in a gym setting, we build a family. So taking that advice, I poured my energy into the gym’s annual Open House, taking care of my students emotionally, physically and socially.

This year, we saw our largest attended Open House, almost doubling the amount of participants and spectators from last year. Food, games, and a martial arts demonstration started the school year off with a bang.

Following the Open House, the gym hosted a week of free classes to the community, encouraging current students to invite friends and family members to try out a class. In the last week, we have had over 20 new students try out the martial arts!

Moving out into the community

Phase two; exploring new opportunities within the community. After the successful week of new students and celebrations, it was time to start exploring new partnerships. Full Circle is now exploring avenues for new programs, including the potential of working with Rural America Initiatives, Working Against Violence Inc. (WAVI), Western Resources for Independent Living, and possibly even partnering with Lifeways for substance abuse prevention programming.

It seems the sky is the limit or, in this case, how much one individual can tackle in a single day. At the end of the day, it’s always about the students. Take care of the students so they can take care of others. Building communities one student at a time.

I would also like to thank fellow martial arts practitioner and photographer Kevin Eilbeck for the use of his stunning photographs.


Read more about Naomi here.

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