Teen center set to open in Washougal Jan. 19

Martial arts academy owner, The Outpost join together to support youth

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Don Stoner (left), the owner and lead instructor of the Lone Wolf Jiu Jitsu Academy, and The Outpost's Pam Young stand outside The Outpost in Washougal, in December 2023. (Contributed photo courtesy of Don Stoner)

The Lone Wolf Jiu Jitsu Academy in Washougal and The Outpost, a Washougal-based network of ministries, churches, community members and other organizations, are preparing to launch a teen center that will focus on mentorship and bullying prevention.

The yet-to-be-named center will open Friday, Jan. 19, at The Outpost, located at 573 30th St., Washougal, and will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday, according to Don Stoner, Lone Wolf’s owner and lead instructor.

“This is my passion project. This is my goal. This is my ‘everything’ right now,” Stoner said. “Because we’ve been able to build the academy in such a way where now I have instructors that teach alongside me (and) can really run the gym without me, I will be freed up (to pursue) this goal.”

Stoner and Washougal resident Elliot Juarez are working to establish the teen center as a nonprofit.

“Parents have come to me from outside of the academy and have told me some of the struggles that the kids are facing, and it became clear to me that we needed to do more at the community level,” Stoner said. “In the bigger picture, what we offer, I feel, needs to be offered to the community, and not just with jiu jitsu, but with other things, like mentorship. This will be a place where kids can go and (be exposed to) good influences.”

The teen center will include space for tutoring; several physical activities, including martial arts and yoga; and a small recording studio.

“A lot of the kids want to be rappers,” Stoner said. They’re actually going to be able to come in and make their own CD, if they pass the first level of physical and mental training. And, on the martial side of things, (we can) show the kids how they can be strong, but also how they need to be kind, and how it’s more important to lift others up instead of break them down.”

Stoner also plans to bring local business owners and community members to the center to mentor the teens.

“There is an onboarding system, where we talk to the youth with parents and develop a plan to tackle whatever issues they are facing, whether it’s a need to improve grades, confidence in sports or school, etcetera,” he said. “We will take them through the physical fitness portion and goal-setting curriculum we have laid out. Everything is (done) with parental support and involvement. The parents will be in contact with the volunteers to report progress and issues.”

Stoner also hopes his techniques will help teens who are being bullied.

“I talk to teachers and bus drivers, and it seems there’s a real issue right now with bullying,” Stoner said. “Kids aren’t comfortable even going on the playground; there’s fights every day. On a weekly basis, parents tell me, ‘My kid’s been bullied. They’re too afraid to talk, they’re too afraid to play, because at some point, some other kid told them something about themselves, and then they started to believe it.’”

Stoner will draw from his background in martial arts to help support those teens.

“Through martial arts, we give them a positive outlet, we give them confidence, we give them a new identity, we build them up, and we support them. We let them know how special they are,”’Stoner said. “From there, they’re able to heal that trauma, and they’re able to transcend it. And this is the beautiful part — they’re able to see the other kids who are being bullied and uplift them.”

Stoner’s goals fit well with the mission of The Outpost, according to the Outpost volunteer and coordinator Pam Clark.

“This is another one of our goals for 2024, to become self-working,” Clark said of The Outpost. “We have a ways to go, but we will get there.”

To register for the teen center or for more information, email washougal