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Catherine Johnson – “What is a Dragon’s Heart?”

What is a ‘Dragon’s Heart’?

To find out, I visited a Sanjuro Martial Arts class in North London to meet Glenn, Anita and the young people they work with. After a tour of Bruce Grove Youth Club, I watched the disability group in action – and wow, it was active! There was no let-up in the energy and focus of the class. From the parents and carers, I heard how important the group was in developing confidence and physicality. The young students from an earlier class joined in, demonstrating Sanjuro’s emphasis on helping each other. They helped me too, when my spelling skills failed!

A week later, I was at the JC Dragon’s Heart Europe Community Centre (House Madelief) in Hoogvliet. Kitty and her friendly team made me very welcome – and even persuaded me to join in a tai chi class with Olympic coach Chris de Korte. Madelief Huis feels like a family home – an inviting, cheerful place that provides activities and company for isolated elders. The local community can pick up second-hand bargains at the Centre, which encourages a mix of all ages. I was very tempted by the paintings and the records – next time I will take a larger bag.

I’ve learnt you don’t need the skills of Jackie Chan to have a Dragon’s Heart. Just courage, compassion and the determination to take on a challenge – whether martial arts in a wheelchair or meeting a new neighbour. We can all inspire and support others, in great ways and small. That’s our Dragon Hearts beating.

Catherine Johnson