Elizabeth Smart Foundation, Utah Tech host self-defense seminar

The Elizabeth Smart Foundation partners with the Utah Tech University Multicultural Inclusion Student Association presenting a self-defense seminar in the Gardner Ballroom. Attendance is free and students will be joined by Utah Tech’s Tate the Therapy Dog. Mason Britton | Sun News Daily

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One in every three women in Utah will be sexually assaulted in their lives. This statistic makes rape the number one violent crime in Utah, so teaching women how to stay safe could save a life.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and to kick it off, the Elizabeth Smart Foundation is holding a self-defense seminar April 2 to fight sexual assault and teach women to stay safe, all while boosting women’s empowerment.

In partnership with the Dove Center and Utah Tech University, the seminar will educate and advocate for women’s safety.

The seminar is from 12:00-2:00 p.m. and will be held in the Gardner Ballroom. It’s a free event, and all students are welcome and encouraged to come learn a variety of self-defense combat.

The Elizabeth Smart Foundation’s mission is to vanquish sexual assault and exploitation, bring hope and end the victimization and exploitation of sexual assault through education, healing and advocacy.

Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped in her home in 2002 and wasn’t found until nearly a year later. A kidnapping and rape survivor, Elizabeth Smart has dedicated her life to victim advocacy and self-defense to prevent sexual assault.

Miyo Strong, program director for the Elizabeth Smart Foundation and instructor for the seminar, said: “It’s a trauma-informed, female-led, holistic approach to self-protection. It includes three main martial arts that we train: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai Kickboxing and Krav Maga.”

Strong said the main focus of this event is to create a safe and empowering space. The seminar will also train with breath work and positive affirmations.

Patricia Slaughter, a junior English major from Overton, Nevada, said: “I believe it’s important that women know how to defend themselves in order to feel safe. I wish we didn’t need to know how to protect ourselves, but in this world, we have to stay safe.”

Students can expect a powerful environment and great music to accompany the seminar.

Isabella Flores, a junior psychology major from Upland, California, said: “Everyone should take a self-defense class. Women don’t have a position of power in society.”

Even if students feel uncomfortable taking the class, Strong says that many people are already capable, it’s just a matter of focusing and being coached.

Tate the Therapy Dog will also be at the event in partnership with Utah Tech Police Department. There will be food and time to pet Tate from 11:30-2:00 p.m.

”It can be uncomfortable for people, especially if you don’t have a combat sports background,” Strong said. “But it’s a very safe and very brave space. We’re going to see a lot of growth happen in just two hours.”

The seminar requires a waiver to attend. The Student Resource Center at Utah Tech recommends that all students go to the seminar.