North Texas boy using martial arts to help others overcome bullying

A young student in Keller is using his experiences with bullying to help others.

Gavin Himes and his parents started the Confidence and Kindness Initiative last year. They hosted a martial arts workshop on Saturday.

Himes said he was bullied nearly every day of first grade, and his parents say those experiences took a huge toll on his self-esteem.

But that all changed when he started taking martial arts classes, which gave him back his confidence.

Himes is now hoping to spread that to other kids.

At Korean Tiger Martial Arts Studio in Fort Worth, it's about more than just showing physical toughness.

Principles like focus and confidence, along with leadership and respect, are up on the walls, and it's in every move the students make.

”We're teaching them taekwondo, the physical, but at the same time, mental,” said Jayden Lee, with Korean Tiger Martial Arts Studio. “Respect and pay attention. Confidence.”

It started with 11-year-old Gavin Himes, who was bullied.

“They would call me names, pick on me, and some people would throw trash. They would get trash out of the trash can and throw it at me,” he said.

But then his family started taking martial arts classes together. His parents saw a change almost immediately.

“It makes me feel better inside, like I have achieved something,” Himes added.

“It was incredible. It was a moment I'm never going to forget,” Gavin’s mother, Heather Himes, said. “I tell everyone I can about it. He just blossomed.”

It was the feeling of confidence building in taekwondo.

“It feels like you feel unstoppable,” Gavin Himes added.

That made him want to spread that same feeling to others.

So using the money he made last summer from his lemonade stand, Himes helped pay for scholarships and equipment at his local martial arts studio so other kids could get their confidence back too.

“Why? Because I've been bullied and I know exactly how it feels,” he said.

Gavin's mom says they worked with school counselors to connect them with kids who deal with being bullied in school and other parents who just wanted to get their kids involved.

Parents like Anthony Bent are seeing a difference in their kids too.

“She started to come out of her shell,” Bent said. “You could actually see her confidence build up. She started smiling and just having a good ol’ time, so this is great. It did exactly what it was supposed to do. Promote confidence in yourself.”

Building confidence with every board they break through.

Gavin and family hope to host at least a few more events by the end of this year and get more kids interested and involved.