Column: Youth empowerment class coming soon

Published 2:14 pm Thursday, July 7, 2022

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By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community columnist

An upcoming children’s workshop will be offered in Clanton to teach young people how to respond to bullying and build up their emotional resilience in vulnerable situations. Sean Gilham, who teaches martial arts weekdays at the YMCA of Chilton County, said that the class will focus on bullying and how to respond appropriately in different situations. According to his martial arts website,, 160,000 students miss school every day due to bullying. Bullying is also the leading factor in suicide among children 11-16 years old.

Gilham, who also experienced bullying when he was in the fourth grade, said his experience started when he changed schools and moved from a rural setting to a larger city.

During the two and a half hour class at the Y, Gilham shares part of his own experience and how negative encounters can be diffused by remaining calm and to treat the bully like a friend by using the Golden Rule: Treat others the way that you would like to be treated.

“Most people think that the Golden Rule only applies to friends, but we are already treating our friends well,” Gilham said. “The class will show how to flex the Golden Rule and use it for our enemies. The Golden Rule was meant to be used for our enemies.”

The class will also teach skills to help manage emotions and resolve social problems. Other key learning points will be self-respect, sport fighting, the champion mindset, physical self-defense techniques and the difference between fighting and self-defense.

“To the child that is being bullied, you are not alone,” Gilham said. “You are not the only one. We will work together and learn how to respond. Learning these tools will help you through life and help you to become resilient as you get older.”

Gilham comes from a family of martial art experts, which include his parents and maternal grandparents. He is a certified SQUABBLES instructor, which teaches the art of conflict resolution.

The Youth Empowerment Workshop will be Saturday, July 23 from 9-11:30 a.m. at 405 Ollie Avenue in Clanton. The class is for all age groups but geared toward elementary and middle school aged children. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing they can easily move around and jump in and a bottle of water. Snacks will be provided during intermission. Parents are encouraged to stay for support and to learn the tools to continue empowering their child. Cost is $15. Early sign-ups are encouraged but will also be available at the door.

For more information, contact Sean Gilham at and click on “Kids- Bully Defense Event” or 205-266-0732.