Passing over the baton
After 10 years of empowering girls in Porirua schools, self-defence teacher Jan Beth is passing the baton to local woman Taniya Smith.
Ms Beth has taught thousands of Porirua primary and intermediate-age girls kicks, blocks, punches and voice techniques to ward off potential attackers. She also emphasises self-esteem and pride in her charges.
‘‘ Girls are clever and brave and strong,’’ Ms Beth said. ‘‘They leave so much more confident, walking tall and proud about who they are.’’
Dozens of local schools have hosted Ms Beth’s two-day course, from Tawa and Bishop Viard intermediates in the south to Tairangi School in Waitangirua.
Ms Beth also teaches as far afield as Taranaki, Horowhenua and Wairarapa, reaching 10,000 girls a year.
‘‘It’s been awesome. It’s been really good,’’ Ms Beth said of her decade in teaching.
‘‘ We’re making a difference to our young women, which is great.’’
Her only disappointment was that girls were still taught more about stranger danger than the much more common threat from family and friends, Ms Beth said.
‘‘It’s more likely to be somebody they know. It’s pretty scary,’’ she said.
‘‘Let’s keep it in perspective: most peo- ple are good out there. But we do have to trust our feelings.’’
Ms Beth is moving to sunnier climes in the Bay of Plenty this spring. She will continue to lead self- defence classes there.
Whitby woman Taniya Smith will take over from Ms Beth in September. Ms Smith has come from an education role at Women’s Refuge and is keen to get her teeth into her new position.
‘‘I wanted to be able to help young girls who, if they were ever in [danger] themselves, have the tips and techniques to deal with it, rather than just freeze,’’ she said.
‘‘We want to essentially eliminate child sexual abuse and violence.’’