SAN ANTONIO - Mary Zimzores is a co-owner of Demo's Greek Food Restaurant. But for months now she's also been working very passionately to bring a program called RADKids to San Antonio.
RAD stands for Resisting Aggression Defensively. And at the Circle School, a private school north of downtown, we watched a unique graduation ceremony for one of the first RADKids classes.
"Stay Back!" A little girl is yelling at a man who is pretending to try to trick her to come with him.
As she takes a defensive stance and runs away, parents in the room applaud.
Another RAD Kid explains what they learned in the 10-hours of training this week.
"We learn to block and shin kick and heel kick, like, right in the shin and toe kick."
"It's a program that helps kids learn how to defend themselves from bullies or strangers or someone that is trying to hurt you or trick you or make you feel bad inside," says little Alexis Yackeren.
The RADKids program has been around since 1998, spreading now across the country, but it's never been taught before in San Antonio. But a triple murder changed that.
"My plans were to go and become an instructor," Mary Zimzores says. "But after that tragedy happened so close to home here, I felt I couldn't wait one more day.
The tragedy she referred to was the murders last September of 10-year-old Sammy Ochoa, Sammy's mother and their roommate. They were all stabbed to death just before their house was set on fire.
The suspects are Sammy's father and her uncle, who are now in jail on sex crime charges. Police believe Sammy was a victim.
And Sammy went to school with Mary's daughter, True.
"It affected me in the sense that I did know these people." Mary says. "And I think to myself this is outrageous. I can't listen to this and just think, oh, just another tragedy."
So Mary flew to Georgia to take the 32-hour training course to become a certified RADKids instructor. She also brought the training course to San Antonio to make sure more people will be able to teach it.
One of those newly-trained instructors is Javier Everett. He wears a padded suit to play the bad guy, so the kids can really hit him when they practice defending themselves. "This is the aggressor outfit. It protects from RADKids and it helps give them a simulation of what it would be like in a real situation."
He also calls Mary Zimzores very focused. "And she's very passionate about the program and that helps us all want to do more."
But when it comes to real bad guys, Radkids teaches that anyone can do them harm. "Radkids debunks the stranger danger myth, because truly 96% of harm that happens to a child is by someone they know. Only 4% is by stranger. So RadKids learn that the only two people that exist are good and bad. It doesn't matter who they are unfortunately. It could be a family member a relative."
Mary says the kids are also taught about how to deal with bullies. And it's made clear to them when they should and should not use their shin kicks or punches.
"They only use the physical defensive skills if they're going to be physically harmed. That's not their first default. There are many steps prior to that throguh RADKid training that a child uses for bullying."
One of the new RADKids tells me she's learned that lesson. "You're not supposed to show friends to show off, but you're supposed to use it for if somebody is trying to steal you or take you from home."
Mary helped bring the RADKids program to the Harlandale Independent School District this fall. She's also talking with and encouraging other school districts here to make it part of their curriculum.
The usual 10-hour RADKids program in schools calls for a half-hour class every day for a month during physical education courses.
"What they learn is amazing to me, especially at this age," says Erica Sage, whose daughter is one of the new RADKids. "You know, they are young and this a program they can repeat every year to gain, to remember, so it's just going to help them. But I don't think they teach it in schools and I think it's important that they do."
Mary wonders whether a RADKids program years ago might have helped prevent tragedies like the Jerry Sandusky case.
"That's what RADKids is all about," Mary says. "Prevention. It's not about how we are going to deal with it afterwards, it's about preventing the first negative thing that can happen to a child. RADKids needs to be a household name, like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. This is something that is a game-changer."