THIRTY kids aged seven to 10 converged on 28hundred Gym yesterday to learn the basics of combat martial arts muay thai, as part of the Merge school holiday program.
Orange City Council Aboriginal youth project worker Kurt Beahan said Merge offered fun school holiday activities for targeted children over two age groups, who might not get the opportunity to do so otherwise.
"Due to costs and travel and other things these kids wouldn't get to do these things," Mr Beahan explained.
Yesterday, the kids got the chance to learn from one of Australia's greatest martial artists, Bruce “The Preacher” MacFie.
"The muay thai is a new activity we've added this year," Mr Beahan said.
"It's a good way to teach them self-discipline, team-building, relationships and to help them build some self-esteem as well. With all the media around the coward punch stuff as well, this teaches these kids that fighting isn't OK outside of a gym."
Mr Beahan said the program also teaches the kids about other health factors involved with the activities.
"The kids also learn about health and fitness, and nutrition too," Mr Beahan said.
The main focus of this week's program is swimming lessons, Mr Beahan said, and ensuring kids could ably look after themselves in the water.
"We have swimming lessons every afternoon," he explained.
"It was identified that a lot of the kids we tend to get at these programs can't swim, and some of them have never even been to a pool. So we like to give them the opportunity to learn what is pretty much an essential life skill."
Next week another 30 children will take part in the program, and enjoy a special excursion to Wellington Caves.
The program is in its eighth year, and has been made possible by funding from Orange City Council and Cadia Valley Operations.