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Making a Mark
Making a Mark is published bi-annually by the CHOC Foundation. It features CHOC and children?s healthcare news, patient highlights, hospital updates, board member spotlights, and community involvement stories and is mailed to donors who support CHOC with a gift of $250 and more.

CHOC Kids Get a Kick Out Of Karate

When Wayne Centra enters the CHOC Rehab Gym at 6 pm on Wednesdays, in addition to being occupational therapist Wayne, he becomes Sensei Wayne, the Japanese term for a karate instructor. A rambunctious group of children in stocking feet and white belted robes eagerly awaits the start of class, then silently bows at the command of their instructor. Suddenly, amidst a flurry of white, the students kick in unison and perform a karate chop, shouting ?keee-yah!? Karate class has officially begun.

Regular occupational therapy, even with a therapist as energetic and enthusiastic as Wayne Centra, is not always a favorite activity for young patients. Yet, when Wayne developed a karate program at CHOC, patients couldn?t wait to get into the rehabilitation gym! Now, children who are visually impaired, have cerebral palsy, cancer, and/or traumatic brain injuries, for example, are making incredible progress through the power of karate. The tremendous successes experienced in Wayne?s karate class are victories for the kids ? and their proud instructor.

?I see these kids come into the hospital fearful of any interaction,? says Wayne, ?then they take these classes and the change is amazing. They become empowered and realize they deserve to be treated like everyone else.?

?I?ve seen a remarkable change in my daughter,? says Amy Casey, whose 8-year-old daughter Heather is in Wayne?s class. ?She is so excited to come to class?it?s just about the only time she?ll pay attention for a full hour!? jokes Casey.

Wayne has been teaching karate since he was 15. As a child, he was greatly influenced by his grandmother, who raised three children while being blind. ?Back then, there weren?t many avenues for people with disabilities to socialize outside of their home or integrate with society,? explains Wayne. ?That?s why I started the karate program at CHOC. I wanted to give kids who are sick or have disabilities a chance to develop their social and leadership skills while gaining confidence and self-esteem.?

Wayne?s efforts received national recognition when he was featured in the July 7 online issue of Newsweek, which featured him as one of eight nationwide recipients of the Giving Back Award, which honors Americans doing extraordinary things. Wayne was nominated by co-worker Denise Almazan for helping give CHOC kids the gift of healing and confidence through karate.

If you?re interested in supporting this program financially, please call 714.532.8690.


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chocChildren's Hospital of Orange County | UCI University of California, Irvine

Children's Hospital of Orange County is affiliated with UC Irvine Healthcare and UC Irvine School of Medicine

CHOC Children's - 1201 W La Veta Ave, Orange, CA. Phone: 714-997-3000. .