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Kickstart Kids: Transforming Lives Through Martial Arts

BOOST Network Member Profile



Kickstart Kids was founded in 1990 by martial arts world champion, actor, and philanthropist Chuck Norris, who was inspired to share the transformative power of martial arts with youth after discussing his passion with former President George H.W. Bush. The first programs launched in the Houston area in 1992, and today more than 8,000 students participate across 59 schools in Texas. Chuck and his wife Gena are driven by the mission to help youth build strong character and achieve their greatest potential, envisioning a future where all youth have the tools and support to build a better life through this life-changing program.

Recognized by the Texas Education Agency, Kickstart Kids is an in-school program that uses martial arts to teach middle and high school students character values and life skills. These activities keep students engaged with a healthy peer group and under the positive influence of their instructor, who serves as a strong role model and mentor. The goals of Kickstart Kids are to help students develop values-driven behavior, build resilience, strengthen school and family connections, achieve higher academic and social success, and become productive community members. The program provides an accessible, affordable, and inclusive means for students to engage in activities that build character and improve health, functioning, and quality of life, empowering them to believe in themselves, set future goals, and overcome their circumstances.

Kickstart Kids is currently offering afterschool programs two days a week and a three-to-four-week summer session on each program campus. These out-of-school opportunities are available to current middle school students, and high school students who wish to continue their training. Implemented in partnership with El Paso ISD, the Kickstart Kids Summer Karate Program is open to students aged 6 and up, regardless of demographics, financial hardship, or physical disability. No previous martial arts or Kickstart Kids experience is necessary to participate. These programs reinforce the Kickstart Kids values curriculum and provide additional opportunities to promote community, achievement, healthy lifestyles, and character foundation.

Currently, Kickstart Kids is only offered in-person. However, plans are underway to develop a Virtual Academy to expand the program's reach and impact beyond in-person instruction. This will allow a much larger audience of home-schooled and geographically distanced students to benefit from the same life skills, tools, and community as in-school participants. The Virtual Academy will also complement the in-person programs once established.

Kickstart Kids joined The BOOST Network in December 2023 and is actively participating in the Spring into Summer Campaign to increase participation in out-of-school time (OST) programs throughout the Paso del Norte region. The organization looks forward to future collaboration with BOOST and its network of providers to share resources, best practices, and high-quality services that benefit youth across the region.

Out-of-school time programs offer critical opportunities for students that they might not otherwise have. Comprehensive and sustained programs are vital for youth mental and emotional health, helping them develop positive skills and coping mechanisms. Programs emphasizing respect, discipline, and structure provide long-term benefits, especially for students lacking guidance and support in their upbringing. For Kickstart Kids specifically, the close bond developed between instructors and students—maintained for three years and often beyond—ensures stability, consistency, and trust, which are fundamental to the program's success.

For more insight into the transformative power of Kickstart Kids, check out this video: Kickstart Kids Overview.


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