Harrison was one of 4 winners of the Fragile X Association Achievement Award, 2015:
Dedication to Karate Reaps Rewards on Many Levels
Harrison Schmitt, his mother Liz and sister Christa all started karate in July 2013. But Harrison, who was diagnosed with Fragile X syndrome at age five, was the only one to continue. Liz and Christa quit after two weeks!
In karate, participants are graded every six months and since starting the sport, Harrison has only missed one grading. He is currently a blue senior having started on white and then rapidly progressing through the levels of orange, orange senior and blue.
Harrison is now 14 years old and thrives on the routine of karate and the acceptance he receives from the other members of the class. He particularly loves his instructors and the patience that they show.
His mother Liz is equally delighted with Harrison’s progress and the life skills that karate has helped him develop.
“ Harrison’s motivation for starting karate was to keep up with his sister. But now that he has been doing it for more than two years, I can see that there are so many benefits. At karate, there is a culture of kindness, acceptance, patience and persistence. Aside from giving him the physical skills to deflect and defend himself, it has really helped settle his nervous energy as he feels accepted by his peers and instructors.”
According to Liz, Harrison shows persistence and dedication in all aspects of his life and he understands that he needs to work hard to get what he wants.
“I am extremely proud of Harrison and his ability to smile through his hardships. I am struck by his ability to strive for something and his willingness to ask for assistance to help him achieve,” she says.
For these reasons, the Fragile X Association of Australia has awarded Harrison with a 2015 Achievement Award.
He was nominated by his mother Liz because “every day he shows persistence and dedication in all areas of his life and he even does it with a smile on his face.” When Harrison was in primary school, Liz was told that he would never write. Harrison now writes, can spell simple words and reads to Liz every afternoon and he is keen to get his driver’s license when he is older.
“Harrison dedicates himself to karate three times a week. And for a child that just spun and spun every lesson, he has come a long way to be blue senior with the opportunity to grade to yellow belt in a few months,” she said.
Sensei Steven Khoshaba, head instructor at Harrison’s karate school, Khoshaba Dojo, is equally proud of Harrison’s achievements. “Since Harrison began training with us, he has shown tremendous ability, growth and a courage and endurance that surpasses many of his fellow classmates. Over time, he has improved tremendously. It has been an honour and a privilege to see Harrison’s transformation and we are most definitely looking forward to many more years together,” Steven said.
Having seen what Harrison has been able to achieve through karate, Liz’s advice to parents of children with Fragile X syndrome is simple. “Don’t do for your kids what they can learn to do for themselves. And never give up the hope that one day they will get it.”