Women’s self-defense class to be offered in Gowrie

Females of nearly all ages can participate

GOWRIE — A free self-defense class is being offered to women and girls this weekend, with the goal of teaching them skills to stay safe and protect themselves.

The North Iowa Women’s Self-Defense Initiative will be hosting two classes Sunday at Southeast Valley High School, 1005 Riddle St., in Gowrie.

One class is for girls ages 8 through 12, and the other is for ages 13 and older.

Brooke Beschorner helped organize the event, along with Heidi McGuire. She said her mother, Shelley Bennett, who is also helping out with the event, was actually the one who came up with the idea.

“She talked to us about bringing something to our small community that can help out women and teens and older children,” Beschorner said, adding that, with all the “bad situations that are going on,” now seemed like a good time to offer the classes.

Beschorner’s comments referred to the kidnapping and murder of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts in July, and the murder of Iowa State University golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena in September.

Instructors with North Iowa Women’s Self-Defense Initiative will be teaching the classes. Beschorner said the group of 8 to 12-year-olds will go over different topics than the one with teens and adult women.

The younger group will learn about situations when self-defense would be appropriate, who predators are, the importance of listening to intuition and using effective voices.

A press release about the event said the class will also highlight “physical self defense tactics and techniques designed to be effective for younger, smaller girls.”

Beschorner said the older class will focus on predators, including what their mindset is and how they look for their victims. Instructors will also educate on “red flags” women can look for that may indicate a predator.

Physical self defense will be taught in that class as well.

Beschorner said any female who is at least 8 years old can participate.

The first class, for younger girls, will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The second class, with teens and adult women, will be held from 1 to 3 p.m.

There is no entry fee and no registration required. Anyone interested can just show up.

Beschorner added that the class is not exclusive to Gowrie residents. Anybody can attend, regardless of where they’re from.

She added that a group known as Damsel in Defense, which helps educate women on how to protect themselves, will be at the classes as well.

“Women will be able to purchase additional tools to help keep them safe,” Beschorner said. “Things like pepper spray, striking tools, alarms and more.”

While she believes the skills the class will teach are very important, Beschorner also said she hopes they’re skills that the women don’t need to use.

“I hope that this class is full and it’s packed,” she said. “And I hope it’s a waste of time and I hope nobody ever has to use it. But you just never know.”

“How important is it?” she asked. “It’s extremely important, and it’s especially important to know and hopefully never have to use.”