Julie Iverson McCarthy
Dear Parent or Medical Professional,
Nine years ago, we brought my son Michael home. He was nearly five and had been living
in a Russian orphanage since birth. Michael was born with severely deformed lower limbs
and weighed only twenty pounds. He also had many of the issues associated with institutionalization. After he turned five, Michael went through several surgeries to allow him to wear bilateral prosthetic legs. He also experienced intense therapeutic parenting to help him learn to love, trust and grow as a individual and a member of our family.
In the summer of 2003, when Michael was six, we met Sensei Jeff Kohn. Michael had just begun using crutches to walk, and the emotional and cognitive toll of his early life was now apparent. In addition to having physical challenges, he was struggling with learning disabilities, ADHD, and behavioral problems.
For the first few months, Sensei worked on Michael's walking, coordination and social skills. He also played tic-tac-toe with him for fifteen minutes every week for six months, until he could do it. He wasn't doing it for fun, but to teach Michael how to think strategically. When Michael was ready, Sensei began training him in karate. Now, seven years later, Michael is a black belt and is assisting Sensei in teaching karate to other children with special needs.
This story is hard even for me to believe. Please know things are not perfect; we are working every day to overcome all kinds of challenges. However, from where to started, to where we are now, is more than I hoped possible. As every parent of a child with differences, I have been down many roads. But, I can say without a doubt, nothing has helped my son more than being a part of Sensei's program. Of course, Michael receives therapy outside of karate, and Sensei supports and enhances these therapies.
Michael has grown into a kind and athletically gifted young man who loves children and continues to work very hard to improve in all areas of his life. Sensei not only brought out the athlete in Michael, he brought out the very best in him as a person. If you'd like to contact me, I would more than happy to answer any questions you might have about Sensei Jeff Kohn and the Karate CAN-DO program. I have also attached some information about Michael. I am very proud of him, and will be forever grateful to Sensei for all he has done for my son.
Yours very sincerely, Julie Iverson McCarthy