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Charmed, I'm sure


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POSTED: Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Violet Shimoko believes that everything begins with a conversation. Using that premise, she brings up subjects such as values and etiquette when talking to girls ages 7 to 12 hanging out at ClubCharm.

It's not your typical charm school full of lessons that have girls balancing books on their heads for better posture or reciting pleasantries. Instead, the girls simply have a place to engage in such leisurely and civilized pastimes as oil painting, ceramic making, yoga and dance.

The mission statement: “;ClubCharm will nurture and grow young leaders in a loving environment that builds the foundation of good character and promotes solid leadership skills.”;

“;If we start when the girls are in high school, it is too late,”; said Shimoko. “;It's really about character development. We teach them to be careful about their thoughts. You become your thoughts. Thoughts become actions. Actions become habits. And habits become character,”; she explained.

It seems to have already hit home for 10-year-old Maria Matsuki. “;I'm always excited to come after school. Everything about ClubCharm is amazing. We always learn new things,”; she said.

Maria enjoys learning the “;word of the day”; from the “;wall of words”; where Shimoko lists positive words intended to motivate, like “;resilience,”; “;loving,”; “;honorable,”; “;dignified,”; “;kind”; and “;thankful.”;

“;I wrote something about being thankful,”; Matsuki added. “;It was for my parents because they always take care of me.”;

Shimoko teaches that poor manners make others feel uncomfortable. Parents like Maria Villano appreciate this reinforcement of values that are already being taught in her home. The same message repeated by parents becomes tiresome over time.

“;They hear these things (anew) because someone else is telling them,”; said Villano, mother of Izabella, 8, and Rebecca, 7, who attend sessions once a week. “;When they first get here, they get to de-stress,”; Villano said. “;The scheduled downtime lets them ease into whatever they are doing next.”;

Shimoko, who said she likely gained her business sense from her father, who founded S&S Saimin and Aloha Maid juices, hopes that character building will rate as high one day as other extracurricular activities like soccer, piano and swimming. “;I really want to teach the girls about altruism.”;

The all-girls after-school program focuses on fun while teaching about being responsible and considerate of others. Old-fashioned activities such as crocheting, sewing, cooking and reading are combined with art activities, homework help and movement classes.

“;Movement, dance and singing classes are not typical for leadership skills, but they allow children to express themselves. ... They allow them to participate. When they attend high school dances, they will be more comfortable if they have these skills,”; she said.

The age span is another positive element, she explained. “;The older girls are patient with the little ones. The little ones become a better version of themselves.”; The core values presented in the program include academic and personal development for lifelong success; global, cultural and spiritual consciousness; commitment to community; and a spirit of inquiry and creativity.

Shimoko's only son inspired the creation of ClubCharm. When he was a child, she started him on the same path with a “;Gents Club,”; involving taking him and his cousins out to fine-dining establishments and teaching them basic etiquette.

“;We would recite the covenant of the Knights of the Round Table before dinner. It was a simple way to teach table manners. Each of my nephews was able to choose a topic for discussion from virtues to punctuality and honesty,”; she said.

With Valentine's Day coming up, Shimoko plans to discuss dating. “;It's recommended that you start talking to kids about dating at the age of 7,”; she said.

Shimoko wants the girls to learn about being compassionate and honest while maintaining integrity and responsibility. They learn about teamwork, respect and how to lead a balanced life, lessons lost on many adults today.

“;They are responsible for their actions,”; Shimoko said. “;We get what we create, after all. We are trying to create a sisterhood where we take care of each other — we are a community.”;