Disabled students learn life lessons in judo class

Judo: it’s a skill that takes discipline, strength and determination, and it is not for the faint of heart..

A group of judo students are not letting physical limitations stop them from becoming top athletes.

In less than four years, 16-year-old Sara Luna is already a green belt in judo, and with continued determination could find herself competing on a world stage in the 2016 Paralympics despite a serious visual impairment.

“I was so happy that it didn’t matter that I was visually-impaired and I could still participate to the same extent as my sighted peers. And that was one of the things that made me very happy,” Sara said.

Sara is one of the top Paralympic judo players in the country, taking four classes a week with the Menomonee Judo Club — one right at her high school, Walter Payton College Prep.

For the last four years, Brett Wolf has brought his dojo to Walter Payton every other week, teaching students both sighted and disabled, It’s one of six programs supported by World Sport Chicago for People with Disabilities.

Whether they have disabilities or not, it gives them a sense of purpose a sense of self, it gives them more self-esteem,” Wolf said. “Although it’s an individual sport, we really foster a family and team atmosphere where they’re part of something bigger than themselves.”

At Walter Payton  Prep, students focus on grappling — here is no punching or kicking involved. But, there is a lot of conditioning, drills and discipline aimed at showing anyone what they can accomplish with a little hard work.

For more information, go to http://www.brettwolfjudo.com/

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