As a mother, Lenka Harris was troubled by what seemed like nightly news reports about college-age girls being assaulted. When she learned that a friend of her daughter’s had become the victim of an assault (she was not seriously hurt), Harris knew she needed to do something.
Harris, a clerk at the Plains, MT, Post Office, came up with the idea of making self-defense training available for local high school seniors.
Hearing Harris’ idea, one of her friends put her in touch with Noah Hathorne, a Plains police officer. Hathorne, who was a close combat instructor during a stint in the Marine Corps, volunteered to teach the class.
The local high school supported the idea and provided the venue and the scheduling.
During the class, Hathorne emphasized fundamental defensive skills, telling participants that there are no rules when being attacked; personal safety is the only thing that matters.
Harris said that she received a lot of positive feedback following the class, including a thank you letter sent to local newspapers. She plans to continue with next year’s seniors and hopes, with more lead time, to increase participation. Hathorne has already said he’ll sign on and the eventual hope is that the class can be expanded to include boys and possibly be rolled out to other communities.
“I just want our girls – and boys – to walk confidently, knowing that they possess the strength and knowledge to take care of themselves.” Harris said.