Donation provides boost for Niles self-defense class
Published 9:26 am Wednesday, December 2, 2015
An effort to help women survive potentially life-threatening situations got a kick-start last week thanks to some help from a local petroleum company.
On Friday, Marathon Petroleum’s Niles terminal donated $1,750 to the Niles-based Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) course, which teaches women basic self-defense skills that can be used to combat various types of assaults.
RAD teacher Julie Sisk said the money would be used to purchase a new simulation suit and, if there is any money left, other equipment.
“We greatly appreciate their donation and their support of the program,” said Sisk, who also works as a reserve officer for the Niles Police Department. “The program has been very beneficial for a lot of women in the community. We’ve had a few survivors go through the class and it is very empowering for them.”
Instructors will wear the heavily padded simulation suit, which allows learners to practice self defense moves on instructors without injuring them.
Although the RAD course is a joint effort between the Niles Police Department and the Michigan State Police, it does not receive funding from either entity.
“Any money we get to help run the program is through donations or a small fee ($20) we charge to take the class,” Sisk said.
A total of four RAD courses have been held so far with the first happening in March of 2015.
Sisk said approximately 100 women have taken the course. The next one has not been scheduled yet, but Sisk said it would likely happen sometime in February or March.
The course is 12 hours long and is spread out over four days. It takes place at the Niles City Fire Station.
Sisk said women start by learning about risk management before being taught how to punch, kick and get out of certain moves like choke holds or wrist grabs.
Eventually, women are placed into different scenarios — like getting grabbed at a park — and taught how to react. This portion of the course features male instructors wearing the padded simulation suits.
Sisk said an advanced course is in the works for people who have already completed the basic course.
For more information about the course, or to reserve a spot for the next one, visit the RAD page on the City of Niles website at www.ci.niles.mi.us.