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helping young people in Bethlehem
Bright Stars Program
Karate Training
by Jireis Abu Ghannam

The Bright Stars program is one of the International Centerís main programs. Dar al-Kalima Health and Wellness Center, which constitutes an important part of the ICB, runs part of the program on its premises. Children participating in the program are between the ages of 6-16. These children are Christian and Muslim girls and boys from different parts of the Bethlehem district, including Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, the refugee camps and the outlying villages. By the year 2005, we aim to have 2000 children as part of this program.
The Bright Stars program is a program, where children are encouraged to develop and improve their abilities, talents and skills. Each Friday they gather at the ICB or the Health and Wellness Center in different art, music, sports, swimming, karate, communications and environmental clubs, each according to his or her talents and gifts.
Headed by an exceptional coach, Mr. Hani Deik, the karate is a major component of the Bright Stars program. Through his dedication and good humor, Hani, who has a black belt in Karate, has been able to overcome the challenge of communicating with children. For the Dar al-Kalima Health and Wellness Center the fact that Hani is working well with the children is a source of joy for us, especially that he was born deaf. Choosing Hani as a trainer and a positive role model for the children was not arbitrary, since he is a good example of how a child, if given the chance and the right training, can excel and be a star in his or her chosen field. The childrenís interaction with Hani is teaching them that, regardless of physical or other challenges each one of them may have, he or she still has something positive to contribute to society.
Presently, our karate coach is training two different karate levels. Some children are still in the first stage of the game, having a white belt, while others have passed the yellow belt exam and are preparing for the orange one. Four groups are training every Friday and Sunday, three of whom are getting ready for the yellow belt while the fourth is seeking the orange one. The Dar al-Kalima Health and Wellness Center is proud of the childrenís achievement. The success of these children is encouraging others to join. To accommodate these interested children, two more courses will be added to the Friday and Sunday schedule.