Karate inspires confidence in special-needs kids - KCTV5

Faces of Kansas City: Karate inspires confidence in special-needs kids

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Sean Bamber suffered a massive stroke when he was just two days old. His parents were told he would never walk, talk or see. But that was five years ago. Sean Bamber suffered a massive stroke when he was just two days old. His parents were told he would never walk, talk or see. But that was five years ago.
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

Little Sean Bamber may never earn a black belt, but that is not what is important.

The 5-year-old suffered a massive stroke when he was just two days old. That stroke left him with cerebral palsy, as well as becoming legally blind.

Sean's parents were told he would never walk, talk or see. But that was five years ago.

"It is very emotional, very exciting. A lot of tears, happy tears and just to watch him continue to make gains and see him develop and have that drive is huge," Sean's mom, Jill Bamber, said.

Bamber says one of the big reasons for her son's growth is the time spent learning karate at Champs Achievers in Overland Park.

Sensei Helen Dugan says all Sean needed was a little confidence boost.

"He was always a happy guy. We started with what can he do, and we built on that to build his self esteem. It is like everybody else ... you build their self esteem, and they work harder," Dugan said.

Many of Dugan's hard-working students have had to overcome a disability. However, one thing that is not a factor is age.

"I'll be 80 in September, and I'm proud of it," said Dugan, a black belt instructor who is always learning and always having fun. "People say, 'you are so good with the kids,' and I say, 'you have no idea what they do for me.'"

And while Sean and the others continue to grow in their training, parents say it is nothing short of miraculous.

"He sees what the other kids do. He wants to spar and jump on the trampoline and balance on a balance beam. All those things he couldn't tackle before, he is doing now because it is just a fun place to learn to do it," Bamber said.

Sean's parents were told that he would never see. His eyesight did develop a little. He can see at a distance of about two feet.

Other than Dugan, all the karate instructors at Champs Achievers are volunteers. People who have a passion for working with children like Sean.

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