The Warrior Factory Helping Students To Build Life Skills

The Warrior Factory, an obstacle park and ninja warrior training facility, recently launched its Overcoming Obstacles program for at-risk students in the Rochester City School District. 
This 12-week experiential learning program encourages students to make connections between the obstacles they face at The Warrior Factory with those they may face at home, in school or in their community.
“By engaging these hard-to-reach kids in a fun, hands-on way, we help them build self-confidence and resilience, and learn that the only true failure is a failure to try,” said general manager Luke Sworts, who developed the program. 
Sworts, a mental health clinician with more than seven years of experience running groups in school and community settings, saw an opportunity to use the facilities at The Warrior Factory to help illustrate and emphasize the motivational factors that drive people in life. 
“Kids don’t learn through just talk,” he said. “They learn most through play and activity.“
Luis Zarate, community school coordinator for Mary McLeod Bethune Community School No. 45, sees the benefits of the program. 
“It is great to get them out of the school where they can face different challenges on their own,” he said. “It’s not only the fun, physical obstacles, but experiencing and learning the feeling of failure and how to work through those issues, and getting them into a different mindset and a different environment.
“Thinking of one student, he was unfocused and underdeveloped emotionally. I saw him develop not only leadership skills in the program, but I heard him talking about The Warrior Factory with some other kids in school. It was kind of a shock because this kid, before attending the program, would have never spoken to another in terms of encouragement. I see not only the potential of the program, but see the progress. The program has definitely been impactful. When students go out and specifically mention The Warrior Factory, it’s really uplifting for us.“
Programs are running for selected students from schools 23, 45 and 46, as well as Villa of Hope. Students are identified and selected by schools based on emotional or behavioral concerns and/or needs. Sworts and The Warrior Factory hope to work with school and community groups to expand the program as a fun, healthy way to build life skills.
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