Youth Karate Program Needs Help with Expansion

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ATCO, N.J. -

A nonprofit organization that has dedicated nearly 30 years to help Atco area students succeed academically through martial arts is now asking for some assistance from the community.

“We use those pillars— discipline, respect and focus — to make sure kids do well in school,” said Derek Davis, executive director of West Atco Youth in Action, Inc.

By using those same pillars of martial arts and applying them to the real world, hundreds of students at West Atco Youth in Action have succeeded on the mat, in school, and in life.

“Through karate I was able to gain a lot of confidence," said Brittany Adams, a former student of the program. "Sensei Davis really really pushes us to do things out of our comfort zones.” 

Adams says she was very shy growing up and credits the program for boosting her confidence and giving her skills to be a leader.

Now, she’s giving back to the program, teaching students how to “step” and “speak,” by combining dance with public speaking.

“If your child is not a part of this program, they’re missing out,” said Nadeline Adams, Brittany’s mother.

If your child is not a part of this program, they’re missing out.

“What Sensei Davis [does] here is second to none,” she continued. "What she is able to do now is a direct result of what he saw in her.”

The program helps local students in the Atco and Winslow areas achieve academic excellence through martial arts.

While some children benefit from tutors and homework help, others seek guidance through karate.

Although the nonprofit continues to help shape hundreds of students throughout the community, they’re running out of room, and they’re now asking for the community’s help to expand the space of the building.

“When we started out, it was a neighborhood concept, and we had kids coming [from] our community," said Davis. "But as the word got out, we had kids coming from all over, [and] right about now, we’re really running out of space."

"It’s getting really tight in here.”

The building once housed the West Atco Fire Department, and after a lot of work and renovations, it was transformed to what’s here today.

Now, Davis is looking for financial assistance, which will be used to knock down walls and increase the size of the building. That, in turn, will help the program continue to grow and make a positive difference in children's lives, according to Davis.

To help donate to the cause, visit

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