Overall Quality of Life:  According to the Children’s Defense Fund November 2011 report by individual states, in Louisiana a child is: born into poverty every thirty minutes; abused or neglected every 54 minutes; dies before his or her first birthday every 14 hours; and will die by gunfire every 3 days. We are 30th among states in per pupil expenditures, 49th in infant mortality rate with the 1st being the best and 48th in low birth weight infants. Economically 24.2% of our children will live in poverty. These are direr statistics.

Physical Fitness: There is no doubt that children from economically deprived environments face crime, drug abuse, mental illness and generally poor health in contrast to their more affluent counterparts.  Key findings from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center for physical activity / inactivity indicate less than 30% of Louisiana youth get vigorous physical activity every day and that physical inactivity is related to poor cardiovascular, metabolic and psychosocial health in children and youth.

Brain Fitness: A new study out of Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and the School of Public Health reports that normal children from the same age group differing only in socioeconomic levels show marked differences in frontal lobe physiology. In the study, children from low socioeconomic levels had brain patterns similar to someone who had frontal lobe damage as an adult. As illustrated by functional MRI’s and EEG’s, theses children have no history of neuronal damage, yet the prefrontal cortex is not functioning as it should. This accounts for difficulties in problem solving, impulsive behavior, and poor judgment.

The Unity Day Youth and Family Zone Good News is that children are resilient and their brains are plastic (moldable) and can be trained. Our mission is to offer consistent, disciplined, and reproducible training for the mind, body and spirit using Karate. The Dojo offers a safe environment that is structured and consistent reducing stress and sympathetic nervous system dominance. This allows the child to be open and receptive to learning the kinesiology and philosophy of Karate that work to enhance memory, focus, and mental agility much like that demonstrated using virtual learning games in a lab. The Dojo also gives children a sense of community and family with a patriarchal (father) figure in the Sensei and this is something that our children desperately need. Statistics from the National Fatherhood Initiative states that 25 million children that is 1 out of every 3(34.5%) of children in America grow up in homes where their biological father is absent.  These children are five times more likely to grow up to be poor thus repeating the cycle of poverty and diminishing the chance for escape.