Everyday Hero: Yan Agrest

Everyday Heroes

Yan Agrest believes that Martial Arts can be the key to helping students who needed a positive influence in their life.

What started as a volunteer effort at Pepperhill Elementary School in North Charleston a couple of years ago, has turned into a brand new non-profit called “Kaizen Way“. Agrest even expanded into Pinehurst Elementary with dreams of more.

“I want for my students to walk out the door feeling better, more confident, more powerful, more focused,” said Agrest. “That’s the whole point of Martial Arts, that self-improvement.”

Agrest and his instructors give these students intense early morning structure, and physical activity to set them up for success.

“The vicious cycle already exists, you see it on the news all the time, but to create that virtuous cycle that takes effort, and that’s an amazing feeling. The guys who work with me, they have it inside their hearts,” said Agrest.

Pepperhill Principal Tanya Underwood says the program is making a huge difference.

“We can see it in their performance in the classroom, we see it in their test scores, we see it in their pride in themselves,” Underwood said. “They feel good about themselves because they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”     

Agrest is hoping to keep Kaizen Way growing, and eventually create a mentorship program to turn students into teachers…completing that “virtuous cycle”.

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