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Kids building resiliency through course

Taekwondo being practiced by some Kewaunee County youth is about more than just getting a good workout. It is part of the COREMatters Project, a 13-week curriculum that teaches kids the importance of being strong, balanced, and flexible. Using taekwondo as a guide, COREMatters helps gets develop respect and resiliency. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski is helping teach the course this year at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Luxemburg, which is allowing multiple grades to participate in a safe setting. Whether it is during COREMatters classes or just handling the everyday trials of a pandemic, Joski believes the community underestimates the resiliency of the area’s youth.

The COREMatters Project is also being held at Kewaunee School District this spring in the fall. Joski says the course will then be taught at Luxemburg-Casco School District and a different parochial school this fall. You can read more about the COREMatters Project below.



As we wait for the County Board to decide what direction they wish to go in regards to our Jail Facility project, I thought it would be a great time to deviate from that subject to something a bit more thought provoking. Although I didn’t think I would back in the schools teaching CORE Matters yet this school year, I had a request from St. Paul’s in Ellisville, and welcomed the opportunity to share this program with some amazing students. To be able to complete the 13 week course before the school year ends, it will require two classes per week but I am confident that the students are up to the challenge!



In addition to an emphasis on the Code of Conduct which is a compilation of Character Traits, the focus on Respect is discussed early and often throughout the course. This is very deliberate and based on the golden rule of “Treating others as you would like to be treated” which, if followed every day by people of all ages would result in a much different world than what we are currently experiencing.


Another early lesson is asking the students to look inward and answer the question “Who am I?” This is a critical part of building up resiliency in the face of adversity and for many both young and old, a key ingredient to dealing with the bullies we may face throughout our lives. It is a fact that for the bully to exist, they require a victim, and for the victim to exist it requires self doubt and uncertainty as to who we are and what our true value as a person really is. It is in knowing who we are, what our CORE values are, along with knowing what our CORE beliefs are that creates almost a Teflon coating which then gives us the inner strength to resist and repel those verbal attacks. It is only when faced with this type of inner strength that a bully loses their power over another and is truly defeated.


Even when faced with incredible tragedy, we can overcome the event by re-assuring ourselves that although the event had impact, it will not define us in a negative way. Even if it leaves physical scars, those scars are superficial and who we are at the CORE remains unscathed. This is not to ignore the tragedy or live in denial, but rather for you to define who you are rather than being negatively defined by some external event.


Over the years, I have had the unfortunate duty of informing loved ones of an untimely death of a family member. These are never easy circumstances, but when possible, I try to follow up and share my approach to tragedy which is as follows. You can never again be the person you were before I gave you the news. You have only two paths to take, the first is to allow this event to destroy you, and the second is to allow this event to strengthen you. That’s it, no other options are available and it is best you decide as soon as possible which path you will take as each path will take you in very different direction. Once embarked upon, each of these paths are difficult to return from. To choose the path of strength however, we again must know who we are at our very CORE.


The true challenge is living our lives in such a way that who we are on the inside is easily identified by both our decisions and our actions on the outside. If we identify ourselves as compassionate, are we being compassionate? If we identify ourselves as respectful are we treating others with respect? While not an easy task, the true indicator of our own internal inventory of CORE values and CORE Beliefs is how we live those values and beliefs each and every day. Another great test of your own internal beliefs and values is to ask a close family member or friend what they think your greatest character strengths might be. If what you think you are and what others see don’t match up, it may be a good time for some self reflection. They may see strengths you don’t see or challenges you were not aware of. It is never too late in life to have these conversations and embark upon additional self growth. As human beings, our pursuit of improvement should never end. Who we are is a book which continues to be written.

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