Greenfield taekwondo studio doubles as child care center before, after school

  • Children watch a movie at Nam’s Taekwondo on Main Street in Greenfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Nam’s Taekwondo at 154 Main St. in Greenfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 1/4/2022 3:05:36 PM
Modified: 1/4/2022 3:04:57 PM

GREENFIELD — The taekwondo studio at 154 Main St. is more than just that, a place to train in the form of martial arts.

For the last several years, Nam’s Taekwondo has also offered before-school and after-school care for children ages 5 to 14, according to Assistant Director and Site Coordinator Paul Choi.

“Most people in this area don’t know we provide this program,” Choi said. “They think of our place just as a taekwondo place.”

Before school, from 7 a.m. to the start of school (depending on the child’s district), the studio provides breakfast, and leads the students in stretching, or sometimes meditation.

“After school, we have programs such as taekwondo classes, arts and crafts; and sometimes we do educational stuff — worksheets, going over homework,” he said.

The after-school program, offered from 3 to 5:30 p.m., also includes activities such as obstacle courses, playing air hockey, or building with blocks or LEGOs, for example.

Transportation to and from schools is included in the daily fee — $18 for the mornings, $28 for the afternoons — and home drop-offs can also be arranged.

Choi said the program began a few years ago with the intention of helping out some of the more vulnerable students in the area, who “needed a safe place to be, other than just staying home.” In fact, state-provided child care resource vouchers are accepted to help families who might not be able to meet the costs, he added.

“That was our main focus — to help out those children who are in need,” he said. “We try our best to work with DCF (the Department of Children and Families) and EEC (the Department of Early Education and Care), and teach our students to let them know that there are other kids who are in need, other than them, and that we can do something to provide a better environment.”

Choi explained that after teaching taekwondo at public schools in parts of Central and South America and noticing the benefit it offered children there, Jinbyoung Nam, or Master Nam, returned home to the U.S. hoping to bring the program he developed abroad to families locally.

“He chose Massachusetts, particularly because Massachusetts had financial support to lower-class families, which is called the voucher program,” he said, referencing the child care support program through the EEC. “He wanted to use the government support to help out the local community.”

In October 2017, Master Nam — who is certified as a master instructor by the World Taekwondo Headquarters in Seoul, South Korea — opened the studio on Main Street. The center is a certified EEC provider.

Outside of the regular academic calendar, Nam’s also offers week-long winter and summer camps from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with drop-off as early as 7 a.m. A camp is also offered during the spring break vacation in April. Plus, child care is offered during snow days and half-days at no extra cost.

The program currently has about 30 active students, Choi said, with the capacity for 52. The programs are staffed by about four employees, and standard COVID-19 protocols are in place, namely that masks are required and sanitization practices are in place.

For more information or to sign up for a child care program, visit ustcgreenfield.com or call 413-772-1919.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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