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IMPACT impacts Sixth Form

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IMPACT, spelt in capital letters but not an acronym, is a self defense and situational awareness course. Many Sixth Formers oppose having to go through this school-required process, popularly known as “model mugging.” Until going to the event, many view IMPACT as a waste of precious spring time, but the program holds many potential benefits for all involved.

Before the program began on Friday, April 28th, many seniors were not enthusiastic about the program. Some students believe the program to be a waste of time, and a heavy and unnecessary burden in addition to the workload that Groton students already have. This viewpoint is valid and shared by much of the Sixth Form. Though many seniors know where they are going to attend college, work does not simply come to a halt. Four hours is a lot of time to lose at Groton especially all at once. Furthermore, many students believe that either they will not be mugged, or in the event that they do, nothing they learn in IMPACT will benefit them. These are two very different viewpoints, but they address the same concerns: “nobody is going to attack me” and “I won’t be able to defend myself anyway” both ask: why do we need this program?

Mrs. Cheeks, who is one of the adults in charge of the IMPACT program at Groton, understands these concerns, but knows from past experience that people understand the importance of the program after the first session. She said, “most kids want to get out of it because they think it’s just a self defense class, but it is a lot more than that.” The instructors, who combined have over forty years of martial arts and self defense training, teach methods of physical and verbal self defense, but they also teach people how to effectively deal with uncomfortable or threatening situations. Mrs. Cheeks describes IMPACT as “learning how to interject in a safe way that protects both yourself and allows you to help those in need.”  

Along with teaching self defense tricks such as utilizing an aggressor’s points of weakness, the instructors teach the Sixth Formers about the legality involved if someone does need to defend his/herself physically. One of the instructors compared resorting to physical violence as a means of self defense to only using airbags to protect a car. While the people inside would come out less damaged than if there weren’t airbags, sometimes using breaks is far more logical. One of the first lessons involved body position in a public space to signal that you do not intend to start a physical altercation. Furthermore, the position that the instructor showed aids the person who was attacked because of security cameras. When a person on camera actively avoids a fight before resorting to physical self defense they are able to claim self defense if the aggressor tries to pursue them legally.

When the course teaches students how to act situationally, it effectively creates better citizens. Knowing these techniques can also teach Groton graduates how to protect others. One example that came up when speaking with Mrs. Cheeks was: “What do you do if you see an intoxicated girl and a boy?” What is the safe and responsible way to react? The goal of IMPACT is to teach the Sixth Formers how to defend, not only themselves, but others as well.

While it is a large time commitment that comes at a time when most Sixth Formers are in a relaxed mood, the IMPACT program is designed with the best intentions in mind. Mrs. Cheeks understands that students enter the program expecting the worst, but hopes that the experience is beneficial. The program aims to help people who think that they won’t be able to defend themselves and teach those who think that they won’t be mugged ways in which they can help those around them.

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