We are both yoga practitioners and educators who have seen the positive effects of yoga in our lives. As educators who grew up in Central Ohio and work in Central Ohio schools, we noticed the need for yoga in classrooms and wanted to fulfill that need. We believe that every student would benefit from access to yoga because of the positive benefits it affords them on and off the mat. We began utilizing many yoga tools in our public school classrooms and wanted more students to experience the benefits of yoga. The mission of Youth Yoga Project (YYP) was born out of our desire to expand the reach of yoga and mindfulness programming to youth in Central Ohio. YYP is particularly committed to providing access to yoga to youth in underserved and under-resourced communities.
2) Describe your Project!
Our yoga in schools project will bring two yoga class series to students within the Columbus City Schools district during the 2017-2018 school year! We will implement a 12-week series for 3rd graders at Cedarwood Elementary and 9th graders at South High School beginning in September and ending in December.
YYP will provide classes in these schools to students within their school day. Our thoughtfully designed curriculum teaches students key skills in the areas of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. Each yoga class will target specific learning goals so that students are equipped with lifelong social-emotional competencies and coping tools after our program.
As a result of our program, students will have regular opportunities for movement in the classroom, feel safe within their school community, show greater acceptance of others’ differences and demonstrate better conflict management skills. Furthermore, we will mentor and support the classroom teacher so that s/he can utilize the yoga tools we teach throughout the day with students, even after our program has concluded.
3) What is your goal for this project?
Our goal is to teach students the tools they need to have a more successful schooling experience by teaching yoga within the school setting. Each student will learn yoga movements, breathing strategies, and relaxation techniques that will support their school success in the following ways:
Better ability to regulate bodies and minds
Increased focus, attention and memory
Improved stress management skills
Decreased levels of anxiety and tension
We believe students within the Columbus City School (CCS) district will benefit from this instruction because the district represents a diverse population of students, many of whom are performing below grade level and living in poverty. According to recent data, the CCS district serves students that are a majority minority and 100% economically disadvantaged. Historically, minority and economically-disadvantaged students have fallen behind their peers. One cause of the achievement gap is stress. Studies of yoga in children have found it to be a top strategy to reduce stress and feelings of helplessness in children. Data shows that stress and poverty result in lower executive function and working memory in kids. Having a mind that is calm and focused allows children to increase their scholastic aptitude.
4) How much money do you need and what will you use it for?
We need $1560 to carry out our yoga in schools project. Each school program costs $780 to facilitate. This includes the following line items:
Printing, documentation and travel
Supplies allow us to pay for the necessary equipment for the program including yoga mats and yoga journals for each student.
This is a small cost for the large impact we will make on our community. Providing yoga instruction to Central Ohio school children from grades K-12 will positively impact our community in many ways. Equipping students with healthy yoga coping strategies and opportunities for movement will reduce the chronic stress students are under. It will also strengthen their social emotional competence, increase their academic achievement, and positively change their school culture. Because yoga teaches students to utilize their body and breath to regulate their inner state, they will have access to these inner tools throughout their lifetime.