Student Izabella in martial arts class.

Making the Switch From Ballet Slippers to Blue Pants

9-year-old Izabella Curry started her martial training almost a year ago, and has recently been able to continue classes with her PowerUP Scholarship. On a Monday afternoon, while Izabella was in class, I had the chance to sit down with her mother, Daylene Kobiolka, in the back of Scott Tasker’s studio. We were able to discuss their journey, the changes she has seen in her very energetic child, and the impact that PowerUP has made in their lives.

In Mr. Tasker’s class, blue pants signify leadership. Students who have committed to their martial arts journey and are able to lead by example. As soon as Izabella got her blue pants, her mom noticed a difference. 

“She’s more serious. She still plays as a kid, but now she’s in leadership and has blue pants. It was like a night and day change.” 

Izabella took ballet before she began martial arts. “She was big into ballet, and she used to tell me all the time, ‘Mommy, I wanna be a ballet dancer who can do karate,’” Daylene said.

Izabella has been taking classes with Mr. Tasker for almost a year. “Instantaneously, we went all the way away from ballet. It was full-fledged. ‘I want to do karate. I wanna learn everything about it.’ She moved up very fast.”

“At first, she was a little intimidated by all the boys,” Daylene said. “She was unsure, and asked questions like, ‘I don’t know if I can, if I’m strong enough.’”

Her concerns went away when she saw Mr. Tasker’s two daughters in class. “They were not intimidated by anything. It gave her the boost she needed.” 

“She talks about this more than anything else, her karate. She tells everybody in her school, anywhere we go, she’s so proud of it and it shows.” Izabella even tries to recruit her friends to join.

Always a confident kid, Izabella has been able to excel in classes thanks to her PowerUP Scholarship. At first, Izabella viewed martial arts as learning how to fight. Now, she sees it as a way she can protect herself and it gives her immense confidence.

This confidence shows itself at school as well. “The stories that I get from her is, ‘Mom, we got a new kid today. I had to show him where the lunchroom was.’ It’s leadership roles that I’m seeing more.” Izabella has increased her participation in chores at home, too. “She says things like, ‘you know, I’m in leadership. I should be able to help you cook.’” 

I would be remiss if I did not mention that speaking with Daylene was a great pleasure for me. PowerUP exists to help our scholars thrive, however, our parents go to great lengths to support their kids as well. Daylene works a job that has her clocking in as early as 1 a.m., and she routinely changes her schedule to make sure Izabella can get to these classes. It is a strong reminder that commitment requires more than just an excited student. 

I asked Daylene what advice she would give to parents on the fence about enrolling their child in PowerUP. “Give it a week, or two, give it a month. Watch your child, and see how they adapt to class. Give it time, watch your child and then make the judgment.”

We cannot wait to see where Izabella’s martial arts training takes her. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, Daylene!

To allow us to mentor more kids, please visit powerupscholarship.org/donate-now.