[KHTS] – A Santa Clarita teen, who was diagnosed with Autism, recently achieved earning his second degree black belt and was honored as State Champion for several divisions of the American Taekwondo Association.
Jared Morrow, 16, of Stevenson Ranch, is a junior at Golden Valley High School and has been practicing Taekwondofor the past five years at Bright Star ATA Martial Arts.
“I used to beat up my little brother as a kid,” Morrow said with a laugh. “My dad told me ‘You either stop beating up your little brother or you take Taekwondo’.”
He was awarded State Champion in the forms, sparring and combat weapons divisions of the American Taekwondo Association State Tournament earlier in October.
“I stayed confident and believed in myself,” Jared Morrow said. “I thought if I believed in myself, I could win this tournament.”
Morrow now works with his instructors Jared Dodley and Jean Morrison, who is the owner of Bright Star ATA Martial Arts, and helps train other Taekwondo students, some with special needs.
“I think that martial arts has helped Jared’s school work, concentration and giving him a sense of accomplishment,” said Jared’s father, Jeff Morrow. “It’s been encouraging for him in his ability to have confidence in himself to set goals and go after those goals.”
About 60 percent of the students at Bright Star ATA Martial Arts have special needs and the martial arts studio is the only one in Santa Clarita that offers full special needs services, Morrison said.
“I have seen Jared grow tremendously over the years,” Morrison said. “We’ve seen the most growth in Jared in his ability to apply himself mentally and really focus on achieving specific goals and improve social skills which is critical for every student in our studio.”
Jared Morrow has straight A grades, is on the varsity tennis team at GVHS and is enrolled in a graphic design Regional Occupation Program (ROP) with the William S. Hart Union High School District that gives students the opportunity to learn about various careers.
“I’m very proud of him,” Jeff Morrow said, “and he doesn’t beat up his brother anymore.”